With the economic crises hitting both the US and Europe, Germany has called for putting into frequent use cooperation with “individual stakeholders” such as India and China in situational, event-driven operations.
Dubbing such temporary alliances as “regional ownership”, German Defence Minister Thomas de Maiziere said one example is the ongoing counter-piracy operation in the Horn of Africa which has actors such as the Gulf countries, China, India, Russia and Malaysia involved unilaterally. All of them coordinate their activities in the theatre with Western forces through a common situation and information system and also by regular meetings in Bahrain.
In Mali, too, cooperation between ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States), France and the EU has started. If this cooperation succeeds, it could be a model with far- reaching effects in the region, he said, while delivering the inaugural speech at the Munich Security Conference, a Cold War construct that retains US-Europe ties as the core of its discussions. But since then it has expanded the scope by inviting representatives considered anathema not long ago such as Russia, China and Iran to discuss global hot spots.
Western military interventions, direct and proxy, in Mali and Syria besides its reservations about Iran’s nuclear programme will be deliberated in detail but Afghanistan loomed in the background.
Virtually acknowledging western-led intervention in Afghanistan as a failure, Mr. de Maiziere wanted the US-western Europe alliance to set “realistic objectives.’’ If a western style democracy was the initial objective, the task at hand now is to empower Afghans to preserve “at least’’ a minimum of peace.
Indicative of the financial crunch that has hit the West, the German Defence Minister dwelt more on the traditional allies – European Union and the US – doing things jointly and appealing to France and the United Kingdom to shed their inhibitions towards North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and the EU.
At the same time, he drew a difference between the structures of the NATO and the EU and, drawing on the lessons learnt in Afghanistan, felt both organisations had a role in situations such as in Mali because military intervention was the beginning of a long-term process towards conflict resolution.
Germany also called on the United States to pivot jointly with the European Union towards the Asia Pacific region and appealed for more dovetailed operations. Positioning Europe as the best possible partner for the US, Mr. de Maiziere did not share concerns about Washington turning towards the Asia Pacific region and away from Europe.