CRCE    Briefing Paper

 

 

 

 

How the East was Won:
What Next for NATO and EU One Year after Enlargement?

 

 

A CRCE Seminar

 

Sebestyén v. Gorka

Richard North

&

Helen Szamuely

 

 

September 2005

 

 

 

 


The Nation-State v. The Federalists & Fellow Travellers

by Sebestyén v. Gorka

 

I should like to look at the topic in the broad context of today, a year on - NATO, the EU, how the East was won and whether the East was won? First, two fundamental issues: what has happened in the last year, and how does my region, Central Europe, relate to institutional integration after twelve months of being full members of the EU and after entering into its sixth year of NATO membership. Then I will look at the second question of where the nation-state stands today within the broader question of EU integration and the security provided by NATO, or allegedly provided by NATO.

 

What I would like to do is to give a snapshot first of what is going on in the region, what it looks like, and then move to my country in particular, Hungary, because there are some interesting things happening there which help to explain some of the problems in the broader context. Then I would like to look at the EU and NATO very briefly and discuss prospects for the future.

 

The snapshot: what do things look like in Central Europe at the moment? About 14-16 months ago, we witnessed very aggressive government campaigns concerning the enlargement of the EU, and in Hungary it was a very interesting process - no central funds were given to anybody who in any way questioned EU membership. Everything was pro, a very big campaign. The most popular element, with about twelve big posters eschewing the joys of joining, was on the theme: “Things that you will be able to do once we have joined.” The most absurd of these was “Yes! You too will be able to buy a patisserie in Vienna should you wish to do so!” This was one of the big propaganda campaign slogans of the Reform Communist government at that time.

 

Hungary had a referendum on membership and there was low voter turnout but they did have a majority in favour from those who went to vote. Since that time there has been much “Euro-fatigue” in the region as a whole. We have seen prices shoot up for staple goods. It is now cheaper as a Hungarian if you live on the Western border to buy your meat and dairy products in Austria; to go across the border and purchase them there than to buy them in Hungary. Petrol is now approaching a Euro per litre, making Hungarian petrol the most expensive in the region, and incredibly expensive if you are a Hungarian on an average wage.

 

But some interesting things are happening in the countries around Hungary in the last few months. The most significant from an economic point of view is the flat tax revolution. Last year, actually someone from our think-tank community, Jan Oravec from the Hayek Institute in Bratislava - through his independent NGO and a very, very aggressive campaign to educate the populace, managed to force a government that did not want to go there, to bring a flat tax revolution and drop all taxes, corporate and individual, to 19% and now there is just one tax level. Since that time many of the other parties among the new members of the EU have decided to follow suit, and also Russia of course. Hungary is the only country which is going in the opposite direction.

 

The second important regional trend is that, although we have to hold our breath for a while, there seems to be potential for a wave of conservative victories over the next six months to a year. Poland will be the big one; the left has imploded in Poland in the last year and the conservatives look ready to provide the next government and President. We shall see what happens in Hungary.

 

What I see, which is also relevant to other countries in the region, is the continuing legacy of communism. Most important is the concept of “álambácsi”, or “Uncle-State”, the sub-conscious expectation that I as a citizen should be looked after by the state; that I should have job security; that prices should be kept low and that health, welfare and education should simply be something maintained by the central government. The idea that the budget is actually my money is not understood. That the government is wasting money left, right and centre is understood, but the idea that it is actually my money they are spending is something we try to hammer into people’s heads every day. “State-capture” is still very large, meaning the proportion of the economy which relies directly or indirectly on the state represents a vast sector of the economy. It is not as bad as Croatia, for example, but in Hungary more than a quarter of the active labour market relies on the state for its work, so about 25% of the active labour force in the country.

 

On a macroeconomic scale my country is going in the opposite direction to its neighbours. Five years ago we were the regional tiger; we were leading the pack of Central European countries. Hungary, in the first seven years of post-communism, attracted more than 50% of all Foreign Direct Investment in Central Europe. That is no longer the case. Hungary now has the largest budget deficit since the fall of communism thanks to the Reform Communist government. We have rising inflation, rising unemployment, and the answer is not to make the state smaller; the answer is to increase the state. The most recent straw to be clutched at was announced by the former president of the Communist Youth League, who is now our Prime Minister, Ference Gyurcsány. This billionaire former communist proposes to save the economy by making it law that in a pub or a restaurant, once you have finished your meal or your drink you must tell your waiter how much you will tip him, so that that amount can be formally registered by the restaurant, and this be taxed. You are no longer allowed to put some money on the table. This, the taxation of tips, is allegedly going to save our economy, along with the taxation of baby-sitters and agricultural day-workers!

 

I do not subscribe to the idea that there is a vast octopus of communist secret police agents from Prague to Kiev and Moscow, where someone presses a button in the Kremlin and someone sneezes in Prague. There is no vast giant conspiracy of former communists. However, there is a myriad of informal networks spread across the region, probably based on where people studied or worked together, whether they went to the Frunze Academy as Soviet officers, or to KGB schools together, whether they have Russian wives - these all create an informal network where people scratch each other’s backs. The most important aspect of this is the overlap between the political elite and big business. Every year there is a publication of the 100 richest people in Hungary. I think there are only two people of whom you could say that they were not members of the former nomenklatura, or not related to the leaders of the dictatorship by marriage or other ties.

 

An example of how this becomes politically untenable, or should be, is that when the current Reform Communist Party took power in 2002, two weeks after the Prime Minister took up his position it was revealed by the last surviving conservative newspaper that he was a voluntary member, not an informer, but a serving officer, a major, in the secret police of the Communist dictatorship. This seemed to escape him when he presented his CV not only to his Party but also, because under the Hungarian constitution it is the President who appoints the Prime Minister, in his audience with the President after the election. He neglected to inform the President that he had been a serving major in the secret police. A huge scandal erupted and I was fortunate, or unfortunate, to be one of the investigators on the parliamentary committee investigating the Prime Minister.

 

Just as an anecdote regarding the levels of fear in the country and how well propaganda still functions, I shall tell you two little stories.

 

The first is that I was appointed as opposition expert on the committee and I started to give press statements. By this time the Prime Minister was saying that in the late 1970s he was a member of the secret police because he wanted to protect his country from the KGB. I responded that this was possibly not true, that in fact the KGB was in control of the secret police and we have to reassess what he is telling us. The statements were reported on television and in the newspapers. One of the consequences was that my babysitter’s grandmother, whom I had never met in my life, sent a coded message via her granddaughter that I should stop what I was doing or I was going to get killed. This was 2002, and this is the level of fear that many people still have in their hearts.

 

Secondly, one day after a committee session I took a taxi home and the driver recognised me. He was at least 55-60 years old so he grew up under the lion’s share of the dictatorship. He said, “Mr Gorka, can I ask you a question? If the British secret service ask a businessman to help them in their work, would this be a bad thing if he said ‘yes’, and helped them?” I said, “Well, you know, it depends on the individual, but the request would not be pejorative or illegal in itself.” And he looked at me and said, “So why are you giving our Prime Minister such a hard time?” I tried to convince him that there is a small difference between a security service functioning in a democracy and a secret police organ functioning in a dictatorship. After the third attempt it was clear to me I was wasting my breath. To him, a communist secret policeman was the same as James Bond. Forty years of propaganda had been quite successful for a large proportion of the population.

 

On a broader level, politically, there is an ideological mess in my country. The parties do not provide identities. We have a 35% floating vote, which is nonsense. It can go from the extreme left to extreme right in the last few weeks of the election. There is absolutely no inbred genetic tradition of identity-based voting. The former Communists, who now call themselves ‘Socialists’ and will change their name soon, I am convinced, to ‘Social Democrats’, espouse social sensitivity to all sectors, especially the poor and the elderly. Yet these are the people who have privatised most of the economy. They are more Thatcherite in their privatisation policy than Margaret Thatcher, especially when it comes to selling state assets to their friends and relatives.

 

On the flip side, the Young Democrats, or the Hungarian Civic Party, whichever one you want to call them nowadays, are those who say they are conservative, and are yet the most etatist party in our country. They want to be in the market; they want to control the market; they provided subsidised loans for middle-class couples to buy houses; they scrapped university fees. So there is fundamentally a confusion of political identities.

 

Now to discuss the organisations we have joined in the last few years. What is the EU, let us start with that question - and of course you could write a PhD dissertation on it. I think the most important thing to remember is, no matter who we blame for the creation of the current monstrosity, whether it is Monet, Adenauer, Schumann or somebody else, we are not going to just abandon Europe. On May 1st last year it was all supposedly about “reuniting Europe”. But Europe never was democratically united and the EU was originally about the winners of World War Two, those on the right side of the Iron Curtain - that is what the EC was about. It was about getting these countries back on their feet. It was about many things at the same time. It was about federalism by stealth, look at Monet, the philosophies he espoused, how much of an elitist he was - this man did not care for democracy. He wanted to walk the corridors of power in Brussels and Washington to achieve his dream. For other people it was a benign form of federalism. If you read Churchill’s speech in 1947 in Zurich, when he talks about the “United States of Europe”, he is not talking about a country, but about this amazing civilisation of nations which are connected to each other economically and politically. It was also about rebuilding countries that were devastated, and about handcuffing France and Germany to each other economically so they would not make trouble with each other again.

 

When I teach this subject at university in Budapest I try to talk about this “Project Europe” occurring in several different phases. The first period is from the creation in the early 50s until the mid-60s. The first phase of Project Europe was when they really do make it practically impossible in the short-term for the countries of Western Europe to go to war with each other. And this is the trouble, because by having achieved their goal in the mid-60s the project loses its raison d’etre. There is a vacuum and the soul is lost. So what happens? Bureaucracies do not dissolve themselves; rarely do they commit suicide, so we had a period in the 1970s - phase two - where the structure perpetuated itself by filling the vacuum in its soul with the goal of further integration, which was simply a tool originally, not the goal. Economic integration was a tool of the original founders, not the aim; however the roles were reversed. Then we arrive to the 1980s and there is a third wave whereby the “movers and shakers”, the Frances and Germanys, the federalists in Brussels, realised that the world may be changing, that the East-West divide may not be as carved in stone as others had suggested and that it would be a little bit embarrassing if Europe’s integrational project had no response to what was coming down the line very soon. As a result you have Maastricht. You have the treaty, and all these efforts, these smoke and mirror attempts to create a Europe with a political identity or to give us a timetable of a Europe with a political identity. But what is the result? The result is a CFSP which was ratified in 1992; a Common Foreign and Security Policy which has resulted in what? At the end of this year, the EU has to delay its target date for creating a force of 60,000 European troops because it cannot do it in time. Out of now 25 nations it cannot gather 60,000 troops to embody the CFSP, when one EU nation on its own, the United Kingdom, sent 45,000 to the Gulf recently! So there is something wrong. But what?

 

Well, I always ask my students at this point, how do you write a nation’s foreign policy? Whether you are the Vatican City or Russia, where do you start with a security policy or a foreign policy? You cannot just pull the ideas out of the sky. You must have a prerequisite, and that prerequisite is a defined set of national interests, or perception of national interest. So how on earth can you have a common foreign policy, let alone a common defence policy, without the national interests of all member states being unified?

 

Those who predict the death of the nation-state are a little bit early in my opinion. The buck always stops with the nation-state and what I hope for in the future is that the new members will be in a better position to realise how much their interests may be negatively affected by those sitting in Brussels who still wish to push this artificial agenda. As a result I hope there will develop a new block of countries: Poland, the Baltic States, and I hope my country, that together will collectively realise their national interests in the face of federalist agendas.

 

NATO is nothing like the EU. It is incomparable, it truly is a political organisation with military goals; it is not a military organisation, in my opinion. The problem with NATO is that ‘unfortunately’ it won the war without having fired a shot, and this is a big problem. As a result there is now a new environment in which its former adversary is allegedly its ally, where it has not been able to reform itself for the last twelve years. There is no agreement after 9/11 over threat perception.

 

A very good friend of mine, was adviser to four post-Cold War Secretaries General of NATO. He advised on Eastern Europe. After the fall of the Berlin Wall he was invited to the former Warsaw Pact countries to talk to them about NATO. Whether it was Prague, Budapest, Moscow, he would always start his speeches in the early 90s with the same question. He would say to them, just to disabuse them of any illusions they had regarding NATO: “NATO, a ‘Super-alliance’, won the Cold War against its big enemy the Red Bear, the Soviet Union. As a result of that fact, how many people out of 4,500 in the NATO headquarters do you think speak Russian?” And they would guess a thousand, two thousand. At the end, he would say, “Including myself, seven.” Seven people in the NATO HQ spoke Russian. You have to understand it is a political organisation.

 

Nowadays, after 9/11, I steal his anecdote but I change it slightly. Even if there was a common agreement on threat perception - let us water it down, Muslim fascism, or international terrorism - how many people do we think in the now smaller NATO HQ, of about 3500 people, have on their business card ‘Arabic Linguist’ or ‘Expert in International Terrorism’? None. It is a bureaucracy. There are many people there who specialise in Cold War security issues and like living in Brussels and as a result there is inertia. NATO is in a bit of a pickle at the moment.

 

Let me just finish at this point on the prospects for the future. It looks like the conservatives will come back - I have no doubt that they will. Maybe not in my country, at least not qua conservatives, but it is looking good for the right regionally. The left, the former Communists, are out of ideas. They have no ideas to put on the table. What they have is propaganda and confused policy messages: you cannot have a free market economy and a full welfare state at the same time. These are the kinds of things they do not realise, or rather are unprepared to resolve. As a result they are in more trouble than the conservatives.

 

But Brussels will not give up. The pro-federalists are not going to stop their campaign. However, we now have a chance that new EU countries or groups of countries will come together to balance anything that the pro-federalists may wish to foist upon us. My last dream at this point is that such a block would be brought together on the realisation that it is in the national interests of the states concerned to work together in the expanded European Union. But there is one important question: do we have leaders up to this task? What I see in the Western world of late, I see Clinton, I see Blair, I see Schröder, not as a conspiracy, but as a symptom of what has happened to politics in the last forty years. Politics has, in most people’s minds at the technocrat level, become an exercise in who can sell more washing powder. As a result there is no de Gaulle or Churchill. There are no statesmen who say, “National interests can be often only be realised by taking fundamentally unpopular decisions.” Decisions that are unpopular in the short term but nevertheless justified by a true vision. I hope we will see a new breed of such leaders in my part of the world which will be able to improve upon the European Union but I am not sure.

 

For further information, my institute has published a couple of papers: a detailed examination of exactly how many former Communists now profess to be democrats and are members of Central European governments - names of individuals and their previous history. The second is a very different paper - a study entitled “The Death of National Security”, on how modern national security structures may not be the best tools for fighting the war against terrorism - a very security-oriented paper. Both can be accessed at www.itdis.org.

 

Helen Szamuely: It is my perception that people have not so much accepted the propaganda - but that they cannot be bothered. Also that so many people were involved in one way or another that it would be difficult to have complete lustration.

 

Sebestyén Gorka: I should have prefaced what I said with my usual caveat: you will not understand the region unless you understand the principle of contradictions. There is no black and white here. I do not mean in the moral sense. If you are trying to understand the region there will be internal contradictions to any given question. Now, many people are not bothered, of course not. Why? Because for forty years there was a parliament in Hungary that met for four days a year and rubber-stamped what the Central Committee had told them to rubber-stamp. So, after forty years, what is a person’s understanding of politics? People are so polite to each other, 95% vote in favour of what has been suggested. Then comes democracy and there are slanging matches in Parliament, there are scandals in the newspaper, and people say, “This is democracy? I don’t want anything to do with that; I’m not interested in that.” But, more importantly, there is also a huge proportion in the population which thinks - and this is a huge frustration for my wife, who is an American and comes from the kind of volunteerism that America has - “Well, we can’t make a difference anyway.” This is the problem: there are huge levels of frustration with the political elite, with the government, and the people recognise it, their blood boils, but do not believe they can make a difference.   It is just complete fatalism.

 

With regard to lustration - very important in our country - I have to take you to task on the suggestion that it did not happen properly anywhere. It happened in Poland, in the Czech Republic and in Estonia. Poland is questionable because various governments exploited it but in Estonia, from one day to the next, they said anyone who is above the rank of colonel is retired tomorrow. Boom, you’re out. In the Czech Republic they banned people from public office for ten years. This is a seriously good form of lustration. Hungary had neither. It had the weakest lustration in the whole region.

 

Lastly, the idea of the penetration of informers. I do not like this argument. It is a very slippery slope: Well, everyone was a little implicated so let’s not look for skeletons in the closet. This is the excuse Medgyessy made when he was in front of us in the committee. This is the man who was former Deputy Minister of Economics, a major in the secret police and millionaire banker after the fall of Communism, and he said, “Well, nobody really liked the regime but you just put your head down and survived”. You could see he put his head down and survived, right? Wrong! If that is the case, my father did not exist, and my father’s friends did not exist - people who were put in prison, tortured, murdered, kicked out of university simply because they said “Oh, democracy’s an interesting concept”. There is something despicable in saying that it was just the nature of the regime. Also, there are big differences. In Romania the Securitate allegedly had 30% penetration of the population, which meant that if you sat down in the pub with three people, odds were, one of those three was an informer. Now that is not the case with Hungary or Poland. The penetration was far less. A couple of hundred thousand were informers. So you have to be careful of tarring everybody with some culpability for the system.

 

FIDESz as a political party - yes, they have a crisis of identity. To understand them we have to look at where they came from. Churchill said, “If you’re not a liberal when young you have no heart, and if you’re not a conservative when old you have no brain”. This is what happened to them. They followed this example exactly. In the 1980s these were a bunch of college students who were pro-democracy, really hard-core anti-communist, but importantly, at the same time, anti-conservative, anti-clerical, anti-religion. They were liberal radicals but anti-communists. Then they spent eight years in the political wilderness as politicians. They went from being students to being politicians and never worked a day in their lives. They spent eight years at 7% in the Parliament, and boom! They win an election in 1998. In the eight years between being a radical student being beaten up by the police and becoming Prime Minister, what happens? They get married; they have children; they get soft around the middle, they become conservatives. But the six top leaders are first-generation intelligentsia from the countryside. They do not like the middle class, they never were middle-class, but they felt themselves becoming conservative. They saw the conservative Hungarian Democratic Forum implode and as a result they filled a political vacuum, but they have no ideological underpinning or understanding of conservative principles. How confused are they? I’ll give you an example. A month or two before the EU referendum on joining, this Party held a party congress on EU membership. Orbán gives a 50-minute speech on the EU. 45 minutes of the speech is, “Look at this bunch, we’re going to join and our farmers are going to get 25% of what French farmers get! We are not allowed to produce milk anymore because there is too much milk in the Union,” etc. - 45 minutes of slamming the Union, then in the last 5 minutes: “Oh, by the way, you had better go and vote ‘yes’ in the referendum because we want to return to Europe.” A complete identity crisis: are we pro-EU or anti-EU? They do not know. They want to have their cake and eat it.

 

Lisl Biggs-Davison: Can NATO find a role and what should it be?

 

Sebestyén Gorka: The answer will fall on the issue of shared threat perception. There is a very strange situation on the European continent at the moment. If I were Osama bin Laden, after 9/11, after the Twin Towers, I would not care about taking Boston Harbour, or San Francisco. Where could I cause the most internal instability on the largest scale in the world with the cheapest investment of terrorist atrocity? Frankfurt, Paris, or Marseilles. If you started suicide attacks, cheap attacks, in those countries with a very high Muslim immigrant population which would immediately be made scapegoats, this could possibly lead to a civil war in those countries, or a serious breakdown. I mean, there would be martial law, I think, in France, if the Muslims were blamed as the fifth column for suicide attacks.

 

Last year I met the head al-Qaeda analyst in the BND, the Bundesnachtendienst, the German answer to MI6. It is clear if you talk to these people off the record in the corridors that everybody in the BND is scared of al-Qaeda. Frustration is not the word for it: their political masters do not want to hear. They simply do not want to know because it is too touchy an issue. I think the same may be said of France. I think the threat perception at the professional level is far closer to the neo-conservative perception than we would give credit but for certain reasons of political utility, this is simply not reflected in the political elites of the important countries of the European Union and NATO. As a result, until there is a catastrophic terrorist attack in one of these countries, NATO will just chug along with its internal reform issues. It will let in countries which really have nothing to contribute to collective security. The majority of the Romanian army has to spend the summer in agricultural work because it does not have enough money to feed itself. It is hired out to agricultural collectives to pick potatoes. It is not an obvious addition to collective security. The Hungarian economics minister has just slashed our defence budget. We will now have fewer soldiers than policemen in Hungary. Our army will be smaller than the draconian ceiling set by the Versailles Treaty in 1920. Voluntarily smaller than that which Paris imposed on us in 1920. We will have 27,000 soldiers. So what will NATO do? NATO will be on autopilot for a while, and then we will see. I think it will be event-driven. There is a whole school of decision-making theory which posits that institutions will not make decisions unless they are in a crisis. They are not in a crisis yet. When the house is burning we may see something change but at the moment it is smouldering very slowly.

 

Helen Szamuely: Is there a sign that they are recruiting Arabic speakers and dealing with the Central Asian Republics?

 

Sebestyen Gorka: NATO as such is not because the NATO central organisation is two-part. It has a large civilian corps, the political division. People with some security background but who are there to chair meetings. NATO has over 300 committees. It is a bureaucracy. Then there is the military side, the IMS (the International Military Staff). Those are the people who are there to plan and run operations. When NATO forces deploy out-of-area, to the Balkans or elsewhere, that is the chain of command through which they are run. As a result, analysis and NATO’s intelligence capacities are very small. We are talking about a couple of dozen people, and generally for vetting and internal security, not for analysis and forecasting. For this, unfortunately, you have to look to nation-states and that is what my article is about: when you look at terrorism and organised crime the big problem is that the enemy functions on an international level, completely transnational, across borders. We ourselves function within nation-state structures. Now, to defeat the enemy, you have to think of clever ways to co-operate with each other that are transnational. You have to work around the limits of the Westphalian system without destroying it. National security was easy under the Westphalian system. What did you have to do? You had to defend the territory of your country, you had to have a standing army and you had to have intelligence services you could send into the enemy countries to gather military, economic and political information. It was easy because you knew it was either Russia, or Prussia, or whoever you had to protect yourself against. Now where do you send them? I mean, even the Cold War was easy, because what did you do? You sent your attachés to be trained in Russian or Hungarian, you despatched them to the embassy in Prague or Warsaw, where they had nice cocktail parties, got Oleg the MVD colonel drunk and then pumped him for information. Now, to which country, which capital, would you send your agents?

 

Russia is a country that was Christian, historically, that is Caucasian, so you could actually penetrate the society with your intelligence men. There was a great op-ed piece about three weeks after 9/11 by a former CIA operative writing under a pseudonym in the Washington Post who said, “If you agree that bin Laden is the new Red Bear, modern intelligence consists of 24-hours-a-day diarrhoea.” What he meant was that you need to find people who look Arab, speak Arabic, can work in those communities, and are prepared to live in caves in Central Asia. Interestingly, very few people apply for this kind of job. When I was a fellow at Harvard, the CIA was openly recruiting at the jobs fair - big posters, smiling faces of all nations - recruiting incredibly aggressively. However, the statistics show that it is not working. People who speak these languages do not want to work for the CIA.

 

The CIA is the successor to the OSS, and if you look at the OSS it was like this. It was full of really peculiar, unusual people with weird family backgrounds who spoke unusual languages, who were thinking outside the box, and that is why it worked so well. Those people have been pushed out over the last forty years by the technocrats, the ‘suits’. We have to return to an age of OSS and so forth, to the spirit of the SOE. It’s something the bureaucracy understands it needs to do from a political point of view but is incapable of doing. It is a bleak picture.

 

George Ross: You are an exceptional person in terms of your background; you live in Hungary but you were born and raised in Britain. Your perspective is totally different from that of the people of Eastern Europe.

 

Sebestyén Gorka: It is always problematic, and I do not feel like apologising because that is why I am here, when you dish the level of dirt on your fellow countrymen or you go into too high a level of detail. FIDESz is a fascinating animal and as a construct tells you a lot about Hungary and post-communist youth. I will give you an example which is fresh, reported about a week ago. A former cabinet member of his government asked me to assist him in trying to convince FIDESz to take a little less of a negative stance towards Washington - they had a very bad relationship with Washington, which is ironic because they are conservative and there are neo-conservatives in the White House. By way of introduction he said there was a meeting of the Presidium of the Party last week where one of the members opened with the following statement: he had been informed by a reliable source that the CIA has declared that in the next Hungarian election FIDESz must not be not allowed to win. Now what does that tell you about FIDESz? I do not like conspiracy theories. I think the world is far more complicated than smoke-filled rooms where people decide that the World Trade Centre is going to be attacked. It is a little more complicated than that. But if something like this can be said at that level of the party which will likely provide the next Hungarian government, that one of its leaders believes that the CIA can actually do that in Europe – it is one thing to do it in Latin America, but to do it in Europe - what does that say about your vision for your country, and about your fatalism? It is one thing for the CIA to have written a report which would say “We would not like this party to win. It would be not beneficial to America.” But to allege that it said, “We will not allow them to win”, says something about the psychology of the person reporting the story and about the effects of Communist propaganda.

 

The EU defence bureaucracy and NATO - I think it is Timothy Garden who often uses the phrase that “NATO was a bluff”, and it really was a bluff. We won; luckily we did not have to go to war because who knows if the plans would have come together as they were meant to? Now, and I am sorry to contradict myself, but I think this is one place where conspiracy theories are possible - creating an EU conspiracy, an EU defence, for no purpose at all, just to stick it to Washington. A Zbigniew Brzezinski article of about five years ago is a classic. It says, even if Europe managed to cobble together 60,000 troops, even if they have a new command structure independent of NATO, where are they going to deploy them? What is the campaign on which the then EU 15 will agree? And he says, well, we could maybe imagine stabilising Corsica or Transylvania, but that is about it. Really, on large geopolitical issues, what would Europe agree on at this moment in time? If France and the UK are unable to agree on Iraq, which is not a small issue, then what are these troops going to be used for? So I think this is a very dangerous attempt to simply weaken the (potential) relevance of NATO.

 

With regards to Russia, the Russians are still doing horrible things because they have all the plans. They are still living that lie. The West is still seen as a potential aggressor, and I think it behoves us to think, “What does it mean when the leaders of the free Western world, or whatever world you want to call the Western world, were saluting the hammer and sickle in red Square on the 60th anniversary of VE-Day?”

 


Galileo: The Military and Political Implications

by Richard North

 

At the core of what I shall talk about today, is a problem that has developed out of an inherent lack of communication and mutual understanding to the point where the two major forces in the military world, are diverging both militarily and politically. Such are the implications of the European Union’s Galileo project.

 

What is Galileo? First I shall introduce the concept of Galileo and then discuss the military applications followed by the political implications. Galileo is the EU version of the American GPS global positioning system. It is a constellation of initially twenty-four satellites but has somehow grown to thirty high orbit satellites, as a separate autonomous EU-run system to provide global coverage - basically navigation and allied activities or applications. At its outset, interestingly, GPS is nothing more sophisticated than a talking clock. These satellites do nothing more or less than tell the time, but very, very accurately. The basis of it is quite simple: you have a ground station receiver, which can receive signals from preferably three of the constellation satellites each of which is constantly feeding your ground station: usually a handheld or vehicle mounted receiver. Those satellites are simply telling the time, and your ground station is doing the same. Since these satellites are several thousand miles away, each satellite gives specific differing readings and then the ground station measures the difference in the times.

 

We know from the very simple formula, speed equals distance over time, therefore distance which is speed times time, speed is constant as the speed of light, you know where the satellite is. Therefore you can calculate the distance from the time and then it is a simple matter of triangulation, which then gives your position accurately within, depending on the system, down to as little as two or three feet. That is a modern miracle because you now can have a little mobile battery-fed unit with which anywhere in the globe - except in the extreme northern regions where satellites do not work effectively - you can tell your position to within sometimes inches. In military terms that is phenomenal. The history of military adventures is a sort of history of disaster. I remember an amusing incursion by the Royal Marines into Spain, while on an exercise in Gibraltar, which brings to mind a Marine commenting that the two most dangerous things in the world are a sailor with a gun and an officer with a map.

 

The ability for military forces to be able to tell where they are to this enormous degree of accuracy revolutionises warfare in very many respects. First, it provides a command and control facility where for the first time in history senior officers and tactical officers actually know where they are, and more importantly know where their own forces are. As the great aphorism says: no plan survives first contact with the enemy. The fog of war, as described by so many authors, is real but we are now getting to a situation where a battlefield commander can sit in an air-conditioned portakabin, as it usually is, with a three-dimensional electronic display that can accurately, with enormous precision show every tactical movement under his command in real time. Now, tied in with high-level and hugely complex electronic and other intelligence capabilities they can also do the same with the enemy. Thus the modern battlefield is now transformed. For the first time in history commanders can, in theory at least, identify the whole of their forces, thereby controlling them, and also identify all the enemy forces. I do say in theory. They can therefore dispose of their own forces with maximum efficiency in a way that enables very small forces to punch above their weight and dominate the battlefield, because they know exactly what they are doing. At the core of this is Galileo because that satellite facility affords the ability to identify and position their forces. That is how important Galileo is to the point that global positioning in that sense and that sense alone is as much a revolution in warfare as was the transition from the musket to the machine gun. It makes the modern battlefield totally different. (See R. North Galileo: The Military and Political Dimension: The Bruges Group, 2004)

 

Now there is another aspect to Galileo in terms of the military hardware and that is in terms of precision guidance. We have all seen the dramatic footage of the first Gulf War, where I think the public were aware, again for the first time in history, military forces could aim weapons at an object and have a good chance, in fact a 90% chance, of actually hitting it. That in itself is a military revolution. In the Second World War it is estimated that it took 200 rounds and, that was from the largest bombs to bullets, to a kill a man, and now you can achieve a 90% certainty of a kill with a weapon; hit first time. The degree of accuracy is actually extraordinary and the latest developments are quite staggering. Two months ago the United States tested its first GPS-Guided artillery shell so we are now talking about field artillery, where you can dial in your co-ordinates and literally guarantee that that shell is going to hit exactly where you say it will. If you like, the combination of those two issues provide, in theory as I say, complete battle dominance and then the ability to take out targets with a very high degree of certainty.

 

Now, if that is the hardware side, what are the military and then the political implications? This is where it gets seriously interesting. It also starts to become very muddy because, like every good theory, it does not work in practice. Unfortunately, our politicians, and especially French politicians, are quite happy if it works in theory and are not terribly concerned if it does not in practice. There was that old story you know it works in practice but will it work in theory. To explain the significance is actually quite difficult and I have to regress and I speak again about hardware, particularly in the context of rapid reaction forces and European military integration. It is all about threat perception. From the certainties of the Cold War where we knew where and what the enemy was, and when we were still basically fighting a variation on the theme of Second World War battles based on the classic armoured divisions: big guns, big tanks, with the expectations of huge numbers of tanks rolling through a gap and being met by a similar number of tanks and various other weapons. These were lovely military certainties knowing your enemies, and you knew how to deal with them, and where they were. In the war against global terrorism it is extremely difficult to: a) to know who your enemy is, b) where your enemy is going to be and c) whether you can actually get your own forces there, to deal with them. It is not only a question of the logistics: It is also a question of politics, whether you will be allowed access both by way of mountain bases in friendly or allied countries as in the Gulf War, or being allowed airspace access for logistics purposes or for even military strikes, so it becomes extremely complicated.

 

But in as much as there is a military dimension to the war against terrorism, and that of course is a massive debate as to what is the relative proportion of your civil and intelligence effort devoted to anti-terrorism and the extent to which you are using military forces and military hardware against terrorism. It has led to the evolution of what is actually a colonial concept of expeditionary warfare, and the buzz word if you like, within the planners minds and being discussed within NATO and Brussels is the concept of “expeditionary warfare”. The idea has gelled in terms of rapid reaction forces which at least in theory can be shipped out within forty-eight hours to arrive, and again in theory literally to roll off the aircraft, battle-ready. Now that is a huge development but it begins to link with the hardware and here we have an interesting dilemma. If you are going to commit forces to unknown theatres very fast they have to be air portable, hence the development of airlift capability and the European Union’s obsession with the building of the A400, to develop its independent airlift. The problem is, that if you are talking about air portability you are effectively imposing a twenty-ton maximum weight limit on any piece of military hardware that you can use. This means that your vehicles, your fighting vehicles, put into theatre, are going to be around twenty tons, not more. A main battle tank, like the Abrams is sixty-five tons. Thus you are looking at a wholly new generation of armoured vehicles.

 

Where does Galileo come into this? We come to another buzz phrase “situation of awareness”. The theory, and again it is theory, is that if you look at traditional response to the design and building of armoured vehicles you are looking a three concepts. You are looking at protection which is in terms of armour; you are looking at mobility in terms of engine, tracks, to give you all-terrain performance; and you are looking at a weapon to give it aggressive capability. A main battle tank ends up as a compromise between the three. If you have too heavy armour you suffer on mobility and you suffer in your armour. If you have too big a gun you have to cut back on your armour and so on, and you end up with a compromise that is technically as good as you can get. If you are then going to cut your weight from sixty-five tons to twenty tons something has to go and what goes is armour. This means you are putting your troops into theatre in lightly-armed vehicles, armoured vehicles, which cannot protect their crews from potential threats. So you approach this differently, and the theory is that by developing electronic systems based around Galileo and around complex and sophisticated electronic intelligence on the battlefield, you are able to detect threats very early within your battlefield, before they get into sufficient range for them to do any damage. You then develop an integrated battlefield relying not only on your armoured vehicles, but also on stand-off missiles, on extremely high-tech artillery such as the Galileo-guided shells plus a layer of air support ranging from helicopters to satellites and drones able to take out that threat before it gets near enough to cause any damage.

 

Now that is the theory, and it is a lovely theory! It means you can then wander around in a lightly armoured vehicle, and you are not too worried because they will never get close enough to hit you. At least that is the theory. However, there are two problems. First, when dealing these days with issues relating to terrorist threats, your enemy rather inconveniently, refuses to wear a uniform. In some cases he is actually wearing your uniform provided by you and using your weapons. Secondly, as experience is showing us, they have become aware that if they stand in the middle of the desert and wave weapons around they get slaughtered, so that anything up to 80% of any “hot” confrontation will occur and is occurring in urban environments. And there, where you are seeking stand-off ranges to protect your forces, of a thousand yards plus, you are down to confrontation in terms of yards and unable to detect that enemy with any certainty, or at all, before they have struck. We now have a huge conflict with the military philosophy centred round the concept of developing a first strike capability. The intent is to take your enemy out before they can get near you but the reality is that you are almost back to the original way of warfare where the first time you know where your enemy’s position is when you have taken the hit. This came to a head, and the lessons still have not percolated through the system where what was known as the American concept F.C.S. future-combat system. The Americans have in principle committed something like over a hundred and ten billion dollars and climbing, towards a complete re-equipment of the American army, where tanks became dismissively described as heritage platforms and where MICVs, the Abrahms and what are loosely called armoured personnel vehicles, became totally obsolete. The idea was to bring in four, six and sometimes eight wheeled lightweight armoured vehicles, tested out in theatre where we see the Americans with now up to three striker brigades, the new armoured vehicle.

 

Then the battle of Fallujah in Iraq ensured that we had an enemy able to use lightweight anti-tank weapons, the RPG-7s lightweight man-portable anti-tank weapons with the capability to take out any theatre vehicle short of a main battle tank. Fallujah was fascinating as it actually rewrote the history books, a fact which is not yet appreciated, because the truism in warfare is that you do not send tanks into towns. Since Stalingrad, the philosophy is that towns are a slaughterhouse for tanks, so you send infantry. But tanks were used in Fallujah, as main battle tanks were the only vehicles in action with the capability to take a first hit and survive. These were combined with high-tech weaponry and for the first time in battle they made maximum use of remote piloted drones. Wherever an enemy loosed off an weapon they were able to detect it within seconds and transmit that information to command structures, so they could launch a counter-strike. Thus the technique developed to send a tank in to take the hit at which point the enemy identifies its location and they never survive to take a second shot.

 

This not only revolutionised warfare but also threw into total disarray the whole concept of “expeditionary warfare”. The whole point here is that if you are running an “expeditionary warfare” system your equipment must be air portable. But suddenly with tanks back in fashion the equipment that you need to use is not air portable and the equipment you are going to buy is not survivable. The planners have got themselves in a bind now, and rather like the dinosaur the message has just hit the tail. Whether it will actually percolate the brain is a moot point because of the political issues. The driving force behind “expeditionary warfare” is not actually geared specifically to deal with identifiable threats because we do not actually know what the threats are going to be, or whether or not politically we can deal with them but it sounds like a good idea. It looks good, and to have a European rapid reaction force is a political imperative.

 

So far we have talked about this extraordinary battlefield technology, both in terms of intelligence and in terms of Galileo which is part of the system. I briefly mentioned the American system of GPS and we conclude that the theoretical thinking being translated into practice at enormous expense is now diverging into two systems. To date, the NATO standard has been American GPS, but the Europeans, in building their own autonomous system, are developing their own electronic technology. We now have another word which is the nightmare and as I read in one report recently, it is not just a word, it is the word, and that word is inter-operability. Interestingly, the Americans have just spent twenty-three million dollars, which is a relatively small amount, on their U.S. Marine Corps for one purpose and one purpose only: to allow the Marine Corps to talk to the army on the battlefield because they have actually built systems that do not talk to each other. But that is a small problem compared to the problem we are going to see vis-à-vis European forces based on Galileo and American forces based on GPS, it is a divergence in the technology to the point where the two systems dominating the battlefield are unable to communicate with each other. If you rely on electronic intelligence in the battlefield and your system cannot see your allies’ assets, and cannot communicate with each other thus battlefield intelligence cannot be shared. In short allies cannot share the battlefield because they will be identified as enemy and taken out. This highlights the political significance of the Europeans developing autonomous systems on a different technical standard to the Americans. There will be a political divergence. They can no longer operate as allies, and for Britain in particular this situation is a problem as we are part of NATO. We regard ourselves as allied to, and working with the Americans, progressively in the modern battlefield, but we will be actually physically unable to work alongside them and technically be excluded from any alliance.

 

It gets worse. In order to finance Galileo, the Europeans have sold access to the system to a number of very shady companies and not least the PRC, China. We are, therefore, in a situation where this highly complex technology is being made available to a potential enemy of the United States. America now feels extremely threatened in areas of high strategic significance and as a result she is starting to shut down technology access to both Europeans and British. This in turn has a reinforcing cycle of increasing the technological divergence and reducing rather than increasing the ability to operate together. Furthermore - and this has not been remarked upon anywhere in the media - in the 2004 EU defence procurement white paper the Commission has decided against one of the most successful programmes in NATO and the most unspoken of NATO programmes which is the technical harmonisation.

 

NATO standard is a byword in military circles, within the whole of the NATO alliance. And it is the sine qua non. After all there is no point in having allied forces working together if your F-16 lands on an allies’ airfield and your fuel bowser is unable refuel it. So this unsung bureaucratic technical work of making sure that everything fits and works together has in fact underpinned the whole NATO alliance. In this almost unheard of EU commissioned paper on defence procurement it was clearly stated that we shall move away from NATO standard towards CEN and develop our own European standards.

 

In that one sentence it writ large that the European defence identity is moving away from NATO because we are moving away from America. By buying in to the technology and in particular Galileo which underpins the whole system, we are alienating ourselves politically from them. We are also divorcing ourselves technically from the Americas to the point where we are not trusted, on one hand and on the other are technically unable to work alongside them.

 

Therefore we are heading for a disaster. On what is possibly actually a flawed military concept of air portable lightweight forces built on the basis of technical theory, we have committed ourselves to rapid reaction forces which increasingly are becoming, and will eventually become, totally inoperable with American forces. By sharing such technology with potential enemies of the United States we shall suffer a close down of access to American technology. We find that the systems politically and militarily are now so divergent that the alliance is actually de facto broken, and that NATO ceases to exist. Therefore Britain can no longer act as a serious practical ally to the Americans.

 

This is an interesting situation with enormous significance and it is causing great concern. I have noted with increasing despair that the issue has been almost totally ignored by virtually the entire western media though reported vibrantly in America. But virtually nothing has percolated into the European press and barely at all in the British press. A great disaster is building and nobody seems to be aware of it.

 

 

Charles Bennett:

Obviously in spite of what you said about the brilliant qualities of the GPS system, it still has limitations. Any GPS system, no matter how complex, effectively relies on a line of sight to the satellites that it operates from. There was an instance in Afghanistan in 2004 where an American-escorted convoy, fortunately accompanied by one of our teams, was ambushed by a local ‘warlord’ who for some reason had decided to break his ‘truce’. The convoy was actually in a steep valley at the time and so could not even find their own location by GPS, and similarly no one else could. Fortunately our team was able to get communications with a satellite telephone, and talked in a U.S. air strike at an uncomfortably close range. The convoy’s vehicles, and the radios in them, had either been hit by RPGs when the ambush started or were inaccessible due to enemy fire. So, however brilliant these systems are, people do tend to forget their limitations, and even more so in internal security operations. Despite all this ‘electronic intelligence’ it is not that simple to identify uniformed soldiers or armoured vehicles in caves and in many buildings where such devices often cease to work. There has been much talk about the European ‘rapid reaction force’, but their ‘rapid reaction’ tends to be at least sixty days later - apart from the whole ‘European’ nonsense and the political complications involved in even making a decision. No one, of course, is willing to spend the necessary money in Europe, however much it would annoy the Americans if they did (which seems to be the sole aim of most ‘European defence’ projects, rather than military effectiveness, which the U.S.A. would welcome). But as to the actual creation of the effective forces required, although there is a great deal of theory on the European side of NATO and among other European forces, very little has happened at all. A fleet of strategic transport aircraft or ‘Airlift’ is a vital part of any rapid reaction forces, which of course the R.A.F. got rid of - it was destroyed during the Wilson government in the sixties; as long ago as that! Later British governments of all parties continued to compound this criminal error. Standardisation matters, not only for ‘high-tech’ equipment but also at a low level, and not just within NATO but more significantly now between Australia, New Zealand, and Canada and the U.S.A. and the U.K. In effect it is being broken up by European political initiatives which is seemingly one of the underlying aims of ‘European’ ‘defence policy’. This is already taking effect, even without the ‘high-tech’ initiatives, to the extent that now the Australians are able to be regarded as more of an effective ally by the U.S.A than we are.

 

Returning to the effectiveness of heavy armoured vehicles, I think that it is very difficult to draw conclusions only from Iraq, and thinking of all the other circumstances, in terms of armoured vehicles (and not just in urban areas). Heavy tanks can bulldoze their way through: But in Afghanistan and in many other parts of the world, in all sorts of difficult terrain, however ‘clever’ the tank is, in its very nature, whether it is a heavy tank or a light one, it simply cannot operate. Because of this it is not wise or possible to try to base all military ‘doctrine’ and tactics on high technology mounted on or reliant on tanks.

 

 

Richard North:

Regarding your point about the reliability of electronics, I recently read of a post-battle report about Stryker brigades where I used that phrase ‘situation of awareness’ - where the commander within the armoured vehicle has a laptop, or what certainly looks like a laptop. It is almost like playing computer games because on the screen are little icons showing where all your friends are, all your assets etc Then a situation ensued when armoured vehicles were going into dead-spots with no reception. They found to their horror that after they had lost reception and then rebooted, the laptop refused to show any of the other vehicles; it showed only themselves! Everybody else had gone off the map! So there are enormous technology and reliability problems. However, in the Air Force, when we had all these wonderful navigation-aids, they still insisted on teaching us how to navigate manually, because we were told that all these electronics break down. If you rely on them totally and everything goes down then you are lost, unless you have that capability to pick it up again. The issue is that troops are getting so reliant on the technology that they are actually incapable of operating around it. Also the technology is now becoming so complex that it exceeds the capability of the soldiers you are able to recruit to operate it. The American army is recruiting an extraordinary high percentage of graduates as non-commissioned officers to operate this technology. However, another problem arises in they are not suitable for ordinary soldiering duties and do not take kindly to them. Now to the issue of tanks: the tank demise has been forecast ever since they were first produced, and military thinking like everything else goes in fashions, whether it is hem-lines or military equipment, exactly the same fashionable ideas pervade military thinking. I was making the point that about ten years ago it became fashionable to say that tanks are no longer any use at all on the battlefield and we are going to get rid of them completely and replace them with this new generation. The British Government is now more or less committed to the removal long-term of all our heavy armour brigades to be replaced by a system called FRES, Future Rapid Effects System. We are told this will cost, for something we have not yet seen, six billion pounds and this is just the procurement, with a lifetime cost of twenty-four billion. This raises a third and very interesting concept, because if you take the total value of the equipment, you are talking about a lightweight battle vehicle with a price-tag of something like five or six million pounds. This vehicle can be taken out by a dissident with a ten-dollar rocket projectile. So we reach the point where the equipment is too expensive to use, and the asset to risk ratio so disproportionate that we can imagine situations where there are stockaded compounds full of highly valuable armoured vehicles, and armed soldiers preventing anyone using them. Furthermore, the soldiers would be actually travelling in Land Rovers because they would be the affordable vehicles.

 

To conclude, the variety of the equipment will obviously depend on the terrain, but it is my belief and it is certainly now the American belief and that you would suddenly stop seeing them mothballing Abrams heritage vehicles. BAE as you know took over UDI, united defence industries which makes the Abrams, so instead of getting rid of these - now no longer “heritage platforms” - they are actually being upgraded to incorporate the latest electronic technology. But while the Americans are now looking at increasing their tactical shipping ability so that they can transport them in high-speed specialist cargo vessels, we Europeans, if we British are included, do not have that ability at all. So we are, for political reasons, maintaining the myth that everything can be air portable even though the reality is a moving concept and forcing other people to change. That is why I said it is getting very muddy because the theory no longer supports the practice.

 

 


EU and NATO Enlargement in Perspective

by Helen Szamuely

 

One year after the EU enlargement to the east, which took in eight former Communist states and at a time when most East European countries have achieved NATO membership, it is time to look at the whole process and its political repercussions.

 

Certain tensions have already manifested themselves in the European Union and it would seem that these are likely to increase. There is some dissatisfaction among the new member states about economic matters - the hoped for large amounts of financial help have only partially meterialised, whereas the fears of regulatory difficulties have proved to be all too true.

 

The tensions to do with foreign policy, particularly with the construction of a “European common foreign and security policy” have, on the whole, been more manifest. This, too, was predictable, and I claim credit of saying so a year or more before Donald Rumsfeld’s famous speech about “old” Europe and “new” Europe. The foreign policy and defence tensions are the inevitable outcome of the different historical developments in the second half of the twentieth century in Western and Eastern Europe.

 

It is worth looking at the actual process of accession and its supposed popularity in Eastern Europe. One of the arguments supporters of European integration use is the number of countries that always seem to be lining up to join the European Union and the popularity of the idea among the people of those countries. In fact, since the early nineties the countries that have been lining up tend to be poor, so much of the popularity depends on the, largely inaccurate, promises of largesse from the western countries that their own politician make.

 

The East European countries were anxious to join NATO and would probably have passed on the European Union if there had been some alternative economic and political arrangement they could come to. The EU could not countenance such an arrangement for various reasons of its own, just as it did not encourage the formation of parallel structures such as the Central European Free Trade Association (CEFTA), a potentially very useful organization but one that was effectively destroyed by EU demands during the accession negotiations.

 

The immediate slogan for East European countries was, as Vaclav Klaus put it: “Back to Europe”. During the years in which eastern enlargement was discussed and negotiated there were many comments about Eastern Europe “rejoining” the West, or Europe; about Europe being “reunited”; and about overcoming the divisions of the Cold War.

 

In fact, as some people in both Eastern and Western Europe realized, these arguments were bogus. The East European countries had never actually stopped being European in any real sense of the word. They were merely separated from the other countries politically, as we had always known, temporarily.

 

Nor does it make any kind of sense to talk of reuniting Europe, since it has rarely been united in a political, constitutional economic sense. If there is an entity called Europe, it is a very vague one and depends on certain cultural analyses. These, as I have said before, inevitably include the countries of Central and Eastern Europe. In that sense, overcoming the legacy of the Cold War - a much more difficult problem than has been acknowledged, Sebestyén Gorka has said and I hope to touch on later - need not necessarily go towards European integration. This has always been a false equation, created by proponents of the integration in order to create a sense of inevitability.

 

The propaganda campaign in the run-up to the referendums in the accession countries tended to emphasise the positive points made above and tried to exclude any analysis. There was some discussion of economic benefits (of some importance in the countries that had lost the Soviet market but had not had it replaced by the European one because of the general protectionist tendencies of the EU) but as little as possible of the possible problems that a detailed and inappropriate regulatory regime might produce.

 

Nor was there any discussion (and, to be fair, there is very little of it even now across the whole of the EU) of the difficulties that separate European defence structures might cause for NATO and the western alliance, which the former Communist states were anxious to be part of.

 

Nevertheless, and despite the enormous amount of money, often provided by the European Commission spent on the yes campaign, the referendums, with some exception were not the decisive affirmation of faith in European integration that had been hoped for. Though the vote was overwhelmingly in favour, the turn-out in most countries was very low. In Hungary, I believe, it was under 50 per cent and some fast footwork was needed to make the result constitutionally acceptable.

 

The problem with the no campaigns throughout the region was that these were dominated, by and large, by either the ultra nationalist parties or the unreconstructed communist ones. Nationalist parties can turn quite ugly in most countries but in Eastern Europe they almost always are anti-western, genuinely xenophobic and anti-semitic. This is not true about all of them but about enough to make it difficult for people who do want to see their countries to become more liberal and more western to vote for anything these parties stand for. The same goes for the unreconstructed communist parties that have not, despite the difficulties Eastern Europe has experienced in the last decade and a half, managed to get many people on their side.

 

Only a small and barely visible proportion of the no campaign concentrated on free-market and liberal political ideas. Even then, as the example of Vaclav Klaus shows, the tendency was to support membership of the EU, though with all sorts of reservations. President Klaus, for example, has made it clear and he is not alone in this, that he is against the proposed Constitution for Europe and, indeed, against any further integration. Unfortunately, the process is a difficult one to stop, while it is fair to say that it was clear during the later stages of the accession negotiations and the referendums that a detailed, integrationist Constitution was being prepared. That was another subject not mentioned during the campaigns.

 

In the light of all this, it is not surprising that people showed their lukewarm attitude by staying away from the electoral booths during the successive referendums.

 

Foreign Policy Outlook

 

The governing outlook in Eastern Europe is a fear and distrust of Russia. This is clearly different from the outlook in Western Europe where Russia has not been a serious threat for some time and where Russian politics does not invade domestic politics. Whether that will remain so as more of Central Europe becomes dependent on Russian oil and gas, remains to be seen. German, for instance, already buys a great deal of its energy raw material from Russia and is often seen to be, as a consequence, rather more emollient towards President Putin than other countries.

 

The EU’s more “traditional” stance has been anti-American, or, to be quite precise, putting itself forward as the necessary rival to the United States. As we have heard from Richard North, this attitude has now developed to a point that may cause serious instability in the western alliance and unnecessary antagonism between the European countries and the United States.

 

 

Right-wing Politics in Eastern Europe

 

Despite the move away from Russia, towards a more liberal European political structure, East European countries have not been able to construct modern right-wing democratic parties on the lines that exist in western Europe. Partly the problem is the continuing presence of the more old-fashioned, more nationalistic, seemingly anti-European parties that have made it difficult for people to associate right-wing politics with liberalism and democracy. This, incidentally, remains something of a problem in some Central European countries. I do recall being told when FIDESZ first came to power in Hungary that one of the aims its leader Viktor Orbán had was to create a party along the lines of the British Conservative one. Though there are historical reasons why certain parties develop in certain countries, the general idea seemed feasible, yet was not accomplished.

 

Another Problem was the result of politics in the west, specifically in Britain. When the East European countries were about to join the European Union there was a good deal of discussion about the possibility of a new grouping in the European Parliament. This was to be a more eurosceptic, free-market group of parties (as you know the European Parliament works on the basis of groups rather than individual parties) that would be led by the British Conservatives, who had, at that stage, left the more federalist Christian-Democrat dominated European People’s Party (EPP).

 

What actually happened was a shift within the Conservative Party during or just after the last lot of European elections and the MEPs were forced to rejoin the EPP, thus leaving the new members with no options but to do the same or disperse among the other groupings.

 

Yet the biggest problem of all that bedevils East European politics is the continuing presence of the old nomenclatura, as has already been mentioned. Many of those who negotiated the accession to the EU were members of this body who, understandably enough, have taken to the ideology of the European Union, based as it is on similar ideas of centralization and regulation as well as government control and welfare from cradle to grave. They, presumably, also have a sympathy with the general anti-entrepreneurial attitude of the European Commission and, often, of the various Councils of Ministers. Either way, these people are likely to stand in the way of substantive market reforms.

 

 

EU Tensions Between East and West

 

The inevitable tensions revolve round economic and security matters. As we all remember France was against enlargement for two reasons:

 

There was a fear that an intake of so many nations who are likely to be in the German sphere of interest would further undermine France’s already shaky position as primus inter pares among the member states (and I am being polite about the French attitude).

 

On a more prosaic level France rightly feared for its own funds out of the Common Agricultural Policy with the inflow of largely agricultural countries, one, Poland, very large, and all of them poor. As we have seen the agricultural agreements were fudged in various ways and the CAP funds have been tied up till 2012. After that it will be more difficult for France and the present recipients of large subsidies to insist that the situation should continue unabated. However, even before that there have been various frictions on the subject of richer countries getting more subsidies than the poorer ones. The still unsettled next EU budget has added fuel to the debate.

 

A separate economic problem is one of taxation. Several of the incoming East European countries have lower corporate taxes than the other member states. This is necessarily attractive to businesses both inside and outside the EU and there has already been some move towards the east. Much of that happened before accession but movement has not stopped.

 

Clearly, this undermines western competitiveness but, instead of drawing the obvious conclusion and reforming the tax system, the various member states with high corporate tax levels, led by Germany have demanded at various times that the eastern countries should fall into line. This would, naturally, undermine their competitiveness and the businesses are likely to move even further east. However, Germany does have one very potent weapon: it is the largest contributor to the EU budget and as long as the new member states expect and demand moneys from the common pot they will be somewhat at the mercy of the donor countries. It is not logical to plead free market ideas for your own low tax rate and demand that other countries should, if necessary, raise their own rates, to pay you greater subsidies.

 

Incidentally, the tax question and the move towards harmonization may also adversely affect Cyprus, which has managed to use its geographic and fiscal position quite advantageously in the past. We shall see how useful membership of the European Union will be to the Nicosia banks.

 

I have already mentioned the tensions in security matters that are based on a different outlook. The East European countries tend to see Russia as the threat; the West European ones worry about American influence. On the whole, as the rift over the war in Iraq showed, the East Europeans tend to line up with America and, one must admit, President Bush has been cultivating various leaders, particularly Alexander Kwasniewski of Poland, presumably to create a counter-weight to the French-inspired anti-American European line.

 

Finally, there is the problem of interests that are peculiarly those of the East European countries and cannot fit easily into a supposed single foreign and security policy. Not so long ago we have witnessed Slovenia trying to accept only parts of the European constitution and being told that it was not an option.

 

Of even greater importance is the relationship with the other former Soviet republics. It was Poland and Lithuania whose governments mediated in the Ukrainian crisis late last year, while Germany flatly refused to do anything outside the EU framework and Solana ran around pleading for peace and stability when the Ukrainians wanted free and fair elections. Similarly, the EU has little interest in or understanding of the situation in Belarus and Russian interferences in all the former republics, even sometimes the Baltic ones, while it is of vital importance to the East European member states of the EU. This, too, is likely to exacerbate tensions.

 

 

 

 

 

NATO Tensions

 

NATO and, in particular, the United States has made it clear for some time that it would appreciate greater financial input from the European countries. The statement at the 50th Anniversary Summit in Washington emphasised that the idea of a separate European structure was acceptable as long as it did not involve rival command structures or lead to an undermining of NATO. As we have seen, the exact opposite is happening. While military budgets in European countries are shrinking, separate command and defence procurement structures are being created.

 

This will inevitably raise tensions within NATO and might even lead to its effective dissolution. What the Europeans will do then if, say, trouble in the Balkans erupts again, seems unclear.

 

At the same time, the East Europeans are showing signs of crisis co-ordination between themselves outside both NATO and EU frameworks. It was, as I mentioned above, particularly noticeable during the Ukrainian crisis. At present battle units that involve Poland, Ukraine and Lithuania are being formed and the plan is to use them inside and outside the immediate area. So far, there has been no reaction from the EU and its foreign affairs High Representative, Javier Solana, but if the plans go ahead, they are likely to be seen as impediments to the creation of a single European security structure.

 

There is one more problem with the East European members of NATO. Because there had been no proper lustration within those countries and many of the old Communist nomenclatura is still in place, there are serious doubts about the reliability of some of the high military and security personnel. Given that the Americans are already wary of European military and security integration and anxious about sharing information that might fall into the wrong hands, the continuing presence of cadres whose reliability is questionable at best leads to lack of confidence and further tensions.

 

 

Conclusions

 

At this stage it is hard to predict how the enlarged European Union and NATO will function. Many of the problems and developments will depend on factors that only marginally affect the new former Communist members, though their presence adds to the various tensions, as we have seen.

 

However, it is fair to say that the East did not have to be won. It was always part of Europe and was merely artificially and by force kept apart by the Soviet Union. On the other hand, Eastern and Western Europe are or should be part of a western alliance, whether it will continue to be tightly organized within NATO or become a loser co-operation of various ad hoc coalitions of the willing. One could argue that the construction of an integrated European Union with its own defence structure that is now compatible with that of other western countries is creating another serious problem for all the member states.

 

The immediate problem the former Communist countries are facing, however, is the need to complete the revolution. They need to remove the last decaying but surprisingly tenacious vestiges of the Communist system. That would finally set these countries on the path to democracy and prosperity.

 

 


About the Authors

 

Sebestyén L. v. Gorka

 

Brought up and educated in the UK After the fall of communism in Hungary, Sebestyén Gorka moved to Budapest to take up a policy position in the new government’s Defence Ministry. He has been an International Research Fellow at the NATO Defence College in Rome, Fellow at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and a policy analyst with the Rand Corporation in Washington, DC.

 

He publishes articles and monographs internationally on the topics of terrorism, Central European military reform, Russia and the NIS, biological terrorism, intelligence and organized crime in many publications. He is a lead analytic contributor to the publications of the JANES Information Group (inc. JANES Terrorism and Security Monitor, Islamic Affairs Analyst) and has also written for Pinkertons Global Intelligence Report.

 

He is a regular commentator on television in Hungary, together with BBC World Service, on defence and security issues. Gorka also lectures on these topics at three universities, the NATO School (SHAPE) and the FBI’s International Law Enforcement Academy.

 

Most recently he was the official expert on a parliamentary commission investigating the secret police background of the current Prime Minister. Sebestyén is Director of the Institute for Transitional Democracy and International Security (ITDIS).

 

 

Richard North

 

After a brief career in the Royal Air Force, Dr Richard North became a local government officer, then ran his own consultancy business for two decades.  He moved into trade politics and thence to the European Parliament as research director for the group of European Democracies and Diversities

 

Through this professional work, Richard obtained first-hand experience of the damaging effects of Brussels directives and their interpretation by UK officials on British businesses, and has gained an unrivalled insight into the workings of the European Union.

 

Along with Christopher Booker the Sunday Telegraph columnist, he is the co-author of The Great Deception, the seminal history of the European Union.  Dr North has also written two books on bureaucracy and the EU, with Christopher Booker, and one on the death of British agriculture.

 

 

Helen Szamuely

 

Dr Helen Szamuely was born in Moscow and educated in Hungary, Ghana and the United Kingdom. She has written and spoken widely on: Russia and the Soviet Union, Communism, Eastern Europe and the European Union. Her articles have been published in The Times, Times Literary Supplement, Times Educational Supplement, European Journal, Salisbury Review, and many other journals. She is the co-author, with Bill Jamieson, Executive Editor, The Scotsman, of A ‘Coming Home’ or Poisoned Chalice? and is the author of A Delayed Homecoming. Published by the Centre for Research into Post-Communist Economies in 1998 and 2000, respectively, these papers were the first critical analyses of the concept of European Union enlargement. Many of the problems and difficulties predicted in these works have now been made clear to one-time critics.

 

She has recently contributed a paper to a forthcoming volume of “alternative history”: What if Lenin’s sealed train had never reached Petrograd? Dr Szamuely also writes research and briefing papers for several members of the House of Lords.