The EU’s Rise as a Defense Technological Power: From Strategic Autonomy to Technological Sovereignty – from Frontier Post

Source: Original Article

RALUCA CSERNATONI

STRATEGIC AUTONOMY ISN’T JUST DEFENSE, IT’S ALSO TECHNOLOGY

Over the past two decades, the impact of new and emerging technologies and increased digitalization have become the prime drivers of globalization and international competition. States around the world are making digital autonomy, technological supremacy, and innovation the cornerstones of their diplomatic, security, and economic efforts. The European Union (EU) is no exception.

The coronavirus pandemic and its broader implications have further highlighted the importance of digital transformation in all aspects of society, as well as the need to reduce strategic dependencies in key, high-end technology areas, value and supply chains, and critical infrastructures. Against the backdrop of a deteriorating geopolitical and security environment, it comes as no surprise that European digital and technological sovereignty are at the center of current EU policy discussions.

There are indeed signs of a new and yet conceptually ambiguous narrative taking shape around building the EU’s technological innovation power. What exactly are the practical and policy implications of a new “technological sovereignty” narrative? And more importantly, what EU tech sovereignty efforts have been made in line with broader European strategic autonomy objectives?

The concept of European strategic autonomy is certainly not new. It initially emerged in discussions related to the EU’s space and security and defense policy strategies, as well as in terms of upping the EU’s game in military capability building. Political discussions about European strategic autonomy indeed have a long and controversial history.

The term has deep historical roots in French strategic culture and thinking, and since the 1990s, it has typically referred to the notion that the EU should be able to carry out modest-size, out-of-area, and militarily well-equipped crisis management operations, especially in its own neighborhood, and independently of the United States and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

While the publication of the EU’s Global Strategy (EUGS) in June 2016 is credited for putting the concept of strategic autonomy on the EU’s foreign and security policy agendas, the reality is that various EU institutions and member states have long been discussing the need to upgrade the EU’s defense technological and industrial portfolio and crisis management capabilities. Key to such debates was the preservation of a competitive European Defence Technological and Industrial Base.

In the words of Josep Borrell, the EU’s high representative for foreign affairs and security policy and vice president of the European Commission, the concept of strategic autonomy is indeed not new, as it has been extensively used in the military realm and for a long time was limited to issues related to European security and defense. According to Borrell, strategic autonomy is also a “process of political survival” for the EU, and its logic should be expanded to other sectors.

This narrow security and defense focus has been recently expanded by the geopolitically focused European Commission under President Ursula von der Leyen and under the stated ambition to revamp the European power agenda in various strategic sectors. The underlying logic behind strategic autonomy has started to increasingly encompass discussions about technological protectionism and capacity building in new domains related to digitalization, data, space, energy, and new and emerging technologies.

The new technological sovereignty narrative is meant to build EU-wide consensus around the need to preserve European leadership and autonomy in various key technological areas. It is the EU’s attempt to put forward a pragmatic and autonomous approach to avoid dependencies and geopolitical coercion in critical technological sectors.

The stakes could not be higher. Indeed, the incumbent commission has started to actively circulate various notions of sovereignty derived from discussions on strategic autonomy and defense sovereignty by populating the discursive landscape with related concepts such as technological, digital, and data sovereignty.

This expansion is revealing increasing fears that more protective autonomy in other policy areas than security and defense is needed to safeguard the EU’s economic and strategic interests and European values. Hence, the impact of terms such as sovereignty, power, and strategic autonomy floating around the technology, digitalization, and data spheres should not be easily disregarded.

These terms give strategic meaning to EU action and institutionalize different sectoral approaches to sovereignty building. They are also indicative of recent EU-led policy, regulatory, and funding efforts in the industrial, technological, and digital domains. But which are the most significant initiatives designed to consolidate the EU’s quest for various sovereignties, and do they amount to a coherent and integrated approach?

EU TECHNOLOGICAL SOVEREIGNTY IS IN THE MAKING

Behind the EU’s recent multiple sovereignty agendas is the need to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to innovation. The very label of a geopolitical European Commission implies a new level of engagement for the EU in the global balance of power. Technological and digital sovereignty are at the heart of such ambitions.

The outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic has further exacerbated the urgency to shore up technological, digital, and regulatory responses to preserve the EU’s economic clout, industrial competitiveness, and geopolitical influence, as well as to reduce dependencies in critical technology areas. What has the EU done so far, and what must it still do to meet that goal of technological sovereignty?

Four cross-cutting dimensions can help unpack the concept of technological sovereignty and better structure the discussion about EU initiatives, programs, and instruments:

DEFENSE CAPABILITY DEVELOPMENT

According to Arnout Molenaar, the head of division in the European External Action Service, dealing with security and defense policy is also related to “a learning curve for the Union to develop a ‘hard power’ mentality.” Technology plays a fundamental role in terms of making possible the EU’s hard military power ambitions—not only to act in a tense geopolitical setting but also to defend the EU’s interests in areas related to technology, security, and defense matters.

In this regard, collaborative EU defense research and development (R&D) initiatives have been prioritized at the EU level for some time now to support the competitiveness of the European Defence Technological and Industrial Base.

EU institutions and agencies have made considerable efforts to preserve Europe’s edge in key areas, including emerging and disruptive security technologies and infrastructures such as cybersecurity, drones, secure networks, space technologies, artificial intelligence (AI), and quantum technology.

Indeed, recent EU initiatives such as the European Commission’s European Defence Fund (EDF) as part of the EU’s Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF), 2021–2027—as well as its precursor programs, the Preparatory Action on Defence Research and the European Defence Industrial Development Programme—are intended to financially empower the EU’s autonomy in defense technology and industry and its research and innovation capacity in future-oriented and disruptive defense technologies.

Such initiatives have been framed as timely catalysts and potential game changers for increasing collective European action and for fostering cutting-edge defense research and innovation in Europe. The commission funded the Preparatory Action on Defence Research as a test case of defense-related research and technology projects, pulling directly from the EU budget line rather than from member states’ joint initiatives. This scheme was a concrete step designed to demonstrate the added value of EU-supported defense technology research and innovation.

If successfully implemented, the EDF is expected to bolster more lucrative and joint research and capability-driven investment schemes in defense technologies across Europe and to increase the EU’s global leadership position in strategic tech sectors. The commission has already pledged a relatively small percentage of up to 8 percent of the EDF funding to disruptive technology actions.

However, with the initially proposed amount of 13 billion euros ($15.4 billion) now reduced to about 8 billion euros ($9.5 billion), the EDF’s real potential to create value added and to incentivize technological and industrial cooperation and competitiveness in Europe is unclear.

Indeed, this reduction could be accounted for by the fact that some member states either took a budget-restrictive approach to the entire 2021–2027 MFF or judged that on balance, they would benefit less from the EDF than their contribution to it and thus opted for reducing the overall funding.

What is certain is that the EDF marks an important paradigm shift in consolidating the EU’s increased supranational activism in the field of defense technology and industry as a basis for building the EU’s military hard power and defense portfolio. The fund also consolidates the European Commission’s increasing role and strong interventionism in the EU security and defense policy fields that have traditionally been the exclusive preserve of member states’ decisionmaking.

There is also a clear message that developing the defense industry and technology base in Europe is key to strategic autonomy. Hence, logic dictates that defense-related technological sovereignty is central to the EU’s strategic autonomy. Nonetheless, it remains to be seen whether the reduced funding dedicated to the EDF and the small percentage of it that is flagged for disruptive military technologies are sufficient to foster high-risk, high-reward technological innovation in the European defense sector.

CROSS-DOMAIN APPROACH TO INNOVATION

The swift operationalization of the EDF, coupled by fostering synergies with other EU initiatives in terms of civil-military R&D cross-fertilization, might very well be what Europe needs to maintain its innovational and technological edge.

To this end, the commission’s Action Plan on Synergies Between Civil, Defence and Space Industries from February 2021—the so-called Three-Point Belt Plan—is one way ahead to propose a more horizontal and cross-domain approach for boosting research, technology development, and the EU’s overall innovation power.

Announced in the Industrial Strategy for Europe from March 2020, the commission’s 2021 Three-Point Belt Plan aims to establish a structured approach and create new opportunities for innovation synergies among relevant EU-funded programs and instruments, especially in the case of emerging and disruptive technologies. It defines critical technologies as relevant across the defense, space, and related civil industries and as essential to Europe’s technological sovereignty by reducing risks of overdependence on external players.

To make this happen, the commission will set up within its services an EU Observatory of Critical Technologies, which will be in charge of regular monitoring and analysis of key technology areas with a view to closing existing gaps and dependencies. It will also use technology road maps and forecasting to identify emerging technologies.

This undertaking will ostensibly facilitate spin-off from EU funding for space and defense R&D and spin-in from civil-driven innovation. The seventeen-page-long action plan mentions the term “technological sovereignty” no less than eight times, while the word “synergies” appears thirty-one times.

This is significant as the document puts forward a more comprehensive civil-military approach to innovation, especially in the case of critical technologies, with a view to scaling up the existing EU toolbox by streamlining various initiatives such as the EDF, the EU Space program, and other EU instruments.

The real challenge is how to foster innovation and facilitate coordinated action between programs and sectoral instruments such as the Digital Europe Programme, which is focused on building the strategic digital capacities of the EU and on facilitating the wide deployment of digital technologies; the Horizon Europe program for research and innovation; the Connecting Europe Facility; the European Innovation Council; InvestEU; and NextGenerationEU, the temporary instrument designed to boost Europe’s post-pandemic recovery.

Yet the relatively low numbers allocated for research and innovation in the EU’s key funding programs for research and innovation, such as Horizon Europe, might suggest the contrary. There is also the question of differing and sometimes conflicting research and innovation cultures in Europe’s unevenly distributed civil, defense, and space industries.

Another related issue is that of digital sovereignty, a term sometimes used interchangeably with technological sovereignty. Without going into theoretical debates about the two concepts, by and large digital sovereignty is yet another iteration of technological sovereignty from external players in cyberspace. It rests, according to EU Commissioner for Internal Market Thierry Breton, on three inseparable pillars: “computing power, control over our data and secure connectivity.” This means that, in the case of digital sovereignty, Europe wants to free itself from its hardware and software dependencies either from third countries or Big Tech players.

In doing so, Europe aims to foster its growing digital infrastructure and economy, while making sure the union’s core democratic values also apply in the digital era. Furthermore, according to the European Commission, a secure and sovereign, European-based, resilient, and sustainable digital infrastructure is vital to this transformation.

In this respect, the Digital Europe Programme also aims to boost the EU’s innovation power. It is meant to up the investment stakes in supercomputing, AI, and cybersecurity, including via a network of Digital Innovation Hubs across Europe.

Complementarity with other EU programs and strategic plans is yet again key to achieving digital sovereignty, especially in high technology areas such as AI. For instance, the European Commission’s White Paper on Artificial Intelligence identified the need to develop a comprehensive policy and governance approach to AI for the EU to “become a global leader in innovation in the data economy and its applications.”

According to the document, one of the main building blocks to achieve this goal is an “ecosystem of excellence” as well as public-private partnerships that will leverage up to 20 billion euros of private and public sector resources along the entire value chain, from research and innovation to accelerating the deployment and uptake of AI-based solutions benefitting public services and businesses.

First published in 2018, the new and updated 2021 Coordinated Plan on Artificial Intelligence further consolidates collaboration between the commission and member states to enable joint actions, public-private partnerships, and research and innovation networks. Funding will be allocated via the Digital Europe Programme and Horizon Europe program, the Recovery and Resilience Facility that foresees a target goal of 20 percent of expenditure on digital goals, and the Cohesion Policy program.

The overall goal is to improve Europe’s competitiveness in the global digital economy, support digitalization, and build innovation capacity in new digital technologies. It also comes as no surprise that the EU’s new Cybersecurity Strategy in the Digital Decade from December 2020 identifies key technologies like AI, quantum computing, and future generation networks as essential to Europe’s digital future and cybersecurity.

DIGITALIZATION AND INFRASTRUCTURE RESILIENCE

Several initiatives have also been aimed at strengthening and rationalizing the EU’s resilience in the case of critical infrastructure, including in terms of digital infrastructure connectivity. The EU’s Critical Information Infrastructure Protection from as early as 2009 aimed to strengthen the security and resilience of vital information and communication technology infrastructures.

There are growing risks associated with the increased digitalization of societies, critical infrastructure resilience, and the security of supply chains, especially in terms of managing critical dependencies. Related to this, the European Commission’s Connecting Europe Facility (CEF2) Digital program aims to support investments in digital connectivity infrastructures during the period of the 2021­–2027 MFF. Among foreseen actions are the deployment of and access to very high-capacity networks, including 5G systems, and the significant upgrade of existing backbone networks including submarine cables.

During the coronavirus pandemic, the issue of European sovereignty over supply chains has also received a renewed sense of urgency. The 5G joint toolbox endorsed by the commission in January 2020 plays an important role as a major enabler for critical infrastructure resilience that will help mitigate the main cybersecurity risks of future generations’ mobile networks and leverage a robust set of cybersecurity measures in Europe.

Thanks to the new toolbox, the EU and member states can now more effectively protect critical infrastructure connectivity. At the heart of EU and member states’ concerns around 5G is the interference by foreign states, in particular China, providing 5G equipment via state-controlled companies and high-risk vendors that present immediate security threats against increasingly digitalized economies and societies in Europe.

This may indeed jeopardize Europe’s critical infrastructure resilience. Similar concerns have been expressed regarding the need to promote and protect sensitive technologies with the potential for dual-use applications. These concerns also come up in relation to the common framework for screening foreign direct investments and the EU regulation on such screening that became operational in October 2020.

Similarly, the commission’s approach to modernize the EU’s export controls on sensitive dual-use technologies is intended to strengthen the EU’s response to evolving security risks and to the impact of new and emerging technologies by better addressing the risks of human rights violations associated with trade in sensitive cyber surveillance technologies.

Other challenges could impact the EU’s innovation resilience, such as potential geopolitical disruptions to critical supply chains like in the case of critical raw materials or semiconductors. This has already been played out in the technological war between the United States and China and the growing weaponization of trade policies.

Accordingly, Europe risks becoming exposed to global tech wars if it does not promote homegrown solutions and address geopolitically risky dependencies in critical technology domains. This has been made clear in the case of the global semiconductor value chain on design, materials, and advanced manufacturing.

The design and production of processor semiconductors are one key area where coordinated plans from twenty-one member states are encouraged under the NextGenerationEU funding scheme. Yet the expense and level of technological sophistication required in creating a chip design ecosystem in Europe imply that it will take years before Europe can develop cutting-edge capabilities.

The European Commission has also taken steps to address risks related to critical raw materials and supply chains, having released in September 2020 an Action Plan on Critical Raw Materials accompanied by an updated List of Critical Raw Materials and a foresight study examining dependent sectors and strategic technology areas for the 2030 to 2050 horizon.

TECH-RELATED REGULATORY ACTIVISM

Equally, the rush to regulate and set technological standards brings about new geopolitical tensions. Considering that new and emerging technologies are becoming a crucial element in great power competition, their regulation is becoming increasingly politicized. Consequently, the EU has taken a global lead concerning the creation of a regime of international norms and standards governing emerging disruptive technologies.

As shown by the General Data Protection Regulation, the EU’s strategic edge primarily resides in its market, normative, and regulatory power—what has been described as the Brussels effect. Yet in the current international climate of a so-called technological war being waged by the United States and China, there is still a long way to go for Europe to become a leader in socially responsible and sustainable high-tech industries.

For this to happen, the EU should reinforce the ethical development and deployment of new and emerging technologies, as well as strengthen its strategic autonomy in critical technology areas. In a nutshell, for the EU to become a global leader in regulation and standards setting, it should also invest heavily in research and innovation so that it becomes a source of cutting-edge technology, not just regulation.

EU leaders have argued that technological sovereignty is also about protecting European culture and values, in which human-centered autonomy is prioritized by emphasizing individual citizens’ sovereign rights to their own data and in their interactions with AI.

With the new strategy for a Europe fit for the digital age, the European Commission wants to deliver on the promise of human-centered and risk-based new tech regulation, together with a comprehensive regulatory packaging including the European Digital Strategy, the European Data Strategy, the Digital Services Act, the Digital Markets Act, as well as the White Paper on Artificial Intelligence and the EU’s latest AI regulation package.

Now more than ever, the devil is in the details. The Commission’s White Paper on Artificial Intelligence already proposed creating an “ecosystem of trust” in Europe by putting forward a legal framework that addresses the risks for fundamental rights and safety under the label of a secure, human-centered, and trustworthy AI.

In the European Commission Proposal for AI regulation on Laying Down Harmonised Rules on Artificial Intelligence (Artificial Intelligence Act) and Amending Certain Union Legislative Acts (April 21, 2021), the EU is proposing a legal framework that does not look at AI technology itself but at how AI is used and for what purposes. It also differentiates between four different categories of uses that have no or minimal risk or limited, high, or unacceptable risk.

The high-risk uses of AI are the main focus of the framework due to their huge impact on citizens’ lives and public interest. In particular, all remote biometric identification systems are considered high risk and subjected to strict requirements. If the proposed legal framework were to be adopted, it would position the EU as potentially taking a strong stance on high-risk AI systems, which would be subjected to a new set of strict obligations.

Some limited uses—for instance, the use of AI in social scoring systems or AI applications that manipulate human behavior—are prohibited outright because they are considered unacceptable. Nevertheless, it is worth noting that the enforcement of these rules falls within the responsibility of national authorities to assess whether AI systems meet their obligations.

The EU has also underscored the importance of global rules, international regulatory convergence, proactive agenda setting in technological standardization, and a commitment to fundamental rights protections when it comes to new (digital) technologies in collaboration with key like-minded partners.

The draft EU AI regulation, in a sweeping stroke, associates the EU’s technological leadership with the stated ambition to become a “global leader in the development of secure, trustworthy and ethical” AI. From this perspective, only “common action at [the] Union level can also protect the Union’s digital sovereignty and leverage its tools and regulatory powers to shape global rules and standards.”

The union’s great expectations are understandable, yet they should be tempered. The EU may have a harder time in setting global rules and red lines. Also, the international influence of the EU’s AI rule book might actually be decided in a transatlantic context and under the recently announced EU-U.S. Trade and Technology Council. What is more, the EU and member states need to actively engage in the ongoing international discussions on the creation of a global AI norms regime, especially in relevant bilateral, multilateral, regional, and UN fora.

CONCLUSION

The above tour d’horizon aims to address key building blocks in what potentially constitutes Europe’s quest for defense technological power. Without a doubt, in an era of global digitalization and geostrategic rivalry, technology is creating new sources of power and security in international affairs. That is why European competitiveness in innovation, research, and technology is so important for achieving strategic autonomy.

Technology has been and remains a key ingredient for global power projection. Breton stated that Europe must now lay the foundations or find the keys to its multiple sovereignties for the next twenty years. Given increasing global technological competition, the rallying call of the day in Brussels is for the EU to learn the language of power and secure its digital and economic future.

The four interconnected dimensions outlined above—cursorily mapping the EU’s various programs, strategies, and initiatives—represent key analytical entry points in understanding the EU’s recent activism toward building a more coherent European sovereignty agenda with technology at its core.

By following this reasoning, European technological sovereignty is manifested across military capacity building, innovation capacity, infrastructure resilience, or regulatory prowess. It is also a prerequisite for European strategic autonomy and the EU’s ability to act as an independent global actor.

Yet recent efforts for Europe to become more technologically sovereign can only be successful when they are coordinated and comprehensive, especially because the impact of emerging disruptive technologies is pervasive and cuts across many sectors. The challenge is to bring together and operationalize the different initiatives and instruments that comprise a complex governance structure reuniting EU institutions and agencies, EU member states, and commercial actors and industrial sectors.

In reality, most of the above initiatives are quite recent, and the EU has just begun to connect all of its financial resources and bridge its strategic and policy thinking across the four dimensions. For this to happen, there needs to be more willingness from EU institutions and member states to cooperate across interlinked political, strategic, economic, and technical matters.

While the EU is advancing in the regulation and governance of new and emerging technologies, it is not yet clear how recent and rather limited research funding initiatives will actually shore up the EU’s critical infrastructure resilience and innovation power in strategic technological domains. Only a persistent and substantial investment policy in future and emerging technologies can ensure the EU’s technological competitiveness, coupled with efforts to create a human rights–centric international norms regime for its ethical and responsible research and development.

If the EU can streamline its goals, interests, and values in such a plethora of defense and tech-related programs, harness the current transformative wave of innovation, and mitigate potential disruptions and human rights harms, it might well become more technologically sovereign in the decades to come. However, the jury is still out on what the future may hold.

US Foreign Policy Adrift: Why Washington No Longer Calls the Shots – from Anti-War Blog

Original: Article Here

Jonah Goldberg and Michael Ledeen have much in common. They are both writers and also cheerleaders for military interventions and, often, for frivolous wars. Writing in the conservative rag, The National Review, months before the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, Goldberg paraphrased a statement which he attributed to Ledeen with reference to the interventionist US foreign policy.

“Every ten years or so, the United States needs to pick up some small crappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show the world we mean business,” Goldberg wrote, quoting Ledeen.

Those like Ledeen, the neoconservative intellectual henchman type, often get away with this kind of provocative rhetoric for various reasons. American intelligentsias, especially those who are close to the center of power in Washington DC, perceive war and military intervention as the foundation and baseline of their foreign policy analysis. The utterances of such statements are usually conveyed within friendly media and intellectual platforms, where equally hawkish, belligerent audiences cheer and laugh at the warmongering muses. In the case of Ledeen, the receptive audience was the hardline, neoconservative, pro-Israel American Enterprise Institute (AEI).

Predictably, AEI was one of the loudest voices urging for a war and invasion of Iraq prior to that calamitous decision by the George W. Bush Administration, which was enacted in March 2003.

Neoconservatism, unlike what the etymology of the name may suggest, was not necessarily confined to conservative political circles. Think tanks, newspapers and media networks that purport – or are perceived – to express liberal and even progressive thought today, like The New York Times, The Washington Post and CNN, have dedicated much time and space to promoting an American invasion of Iraq as the first step of a complete US geostrategic military hegemony in the Middle East.

Like the National Review, these media networks also provided unhindered space to so-called neoconservative intellectuals who molded American foreign policy based on some strange mix between their twisted take on ethics and morality and the need for the US to ensure its global dominance throughout the 21st century. Of course, the neocons’ love affair with Israel has served as the common denominator among all individuals affiliated with this intellectual cult.

The main – and inconsequential – difference between Ledeen, for example, and those like Thomas Friedman of The New York Times, is that the former is brazen and blunt, while the latter is delusional and manipulative. For his part, Friedman also supported the Iraq war, but only to bring “democracy” to the Middle East and to fight “terrorism.” The pretense “war on terror,” though misleading if not outright fabricated, was the overriding American motto in its invasion of Iraq and, earlier, Afghanistan. This mantra was readily utilized whenever Washington needed to “pick up some small crappy little country and throw it against the wall.”

Even those who genuinely supported the war based on concocted intelligence – that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, possessed weapons of mass destruction, or the equally fallacious notion that Saddam and Al-Qaeda cooperated in any way – must, by now, realize that the entire American discourse prior to the war had no basis in reality. Unfortunately, war enthusiasts are not a rational bunch. Therefore, neither they, nor their “intellectuals,” should be expected to possess the moral integrity in shouldering the responsibility for the Iraq invasion and its horrific consequences.

If, indeed, the US wars in the Middle East and Afghanistan were meant to fight and uproot terror, how is it possible that, in June 2014, an erstwhile unknown group calling itself the “Islamic State” (IS), managed to flourish, occupy and usurp massive swathes of Iraqi and Syrian territories and resource under the watchful eye of the US military? If the other war objective was bringing stability and democracy to the Middle East, why did many years of US “state-building” efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, for example, leave behind nothing but weak, shattered armies and festering corruption?

Two important events have summoned up these thoughts: US President Joe Biden’s “historic” trip to Cornwall, UK, in June, to attend the 47th G7 summit and, two weeks later, the death of Donald Rumsfeld, who is widely depicted as “the architect of the Iraq war.” The tone struck by Biden throughout his G7 meetings is that “America is back,” another American coinage similar to the earlier phrase, the “great reset” – meaning that Washington is ready to reclaim its global role that had been betrayed by the chaotic policies of former President Donald Trump.

The newest phrase – “America is back” – appears to suggest that the decision to restore the US’ uncontested global leadership is, more or less, an exclusively American decision. Moreover, the term is not entirely new. In his first speech to a global audience at the Munich Security Conference on February 19, Biden repeated the phrase several times with obvious emphasis.

“America is back. I speak today as President of the United States, at the very start of my administration and I am sending a clear message to the world: America is back,” Biden said, adding that “the transatlantic alliance is back and we are not looking backward, we are looking forward together.”

Platitudes and wishful thinking aside, the US cannot possibly return to a previous geopolitical standing, simply because Biden has made an executive decision to “reset” his country’s traditional relationships with Europe – or anywhere else, either. Biden’s actual mission is to merely whitewash and restore his country’s tarnished reputation, marred not only by Trump, but also by years of fruitless wars, a crisis of democracy at home and abroad and an impending financial crisis resulting from the US’ mishandling of the Covid-19 pandemic. Unfortunately for Washington, while it hopes to “look forward” to the future, other countries have already staked claims to parts of the world where the US has been forced to retreat, following two decades of a rudderless strategy that is fueled by the belief that firepower alone is sufficient to keep America aloft forever.

Though Biden was received warmly by his European hosts, Europe is likely to proceed cautiously. The continent’s geostrategic interests do not fall entirely in the American camp, as was once the case. Other new factors and power players have emerged in recent years. China is now the European bloc’s largest trade partner and Biden’s scare tactics warning of Chinese global dominance have not, seemingly, impressed the Europeans as the Americans had hoped. Following Britain’s unceremonious exit from the EU bloc, the latter urgently needs to keep its share of the global economy as large as possible. The limping US economy will hardly make the substantial deficit felt in Europe. Namely, the China-EU relationship is here to stay – and grow.

There is something else that makes the Europeans wary of whatever murky political doctrine Biden is promoting: dangerous American military adventurism.

The US and Europe are the foundation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) which, since its inception in 1949, was almost exclusively used by the US to assert its global dominance, first in the Korean Peninsula in 1950, then everywhere else.

Following the September 11 attacks, Washington used its hegemony over NATO to invoke Article 5 of its Charter, that of collective defense. The consequences were dire, as NATO members, along with the US, were embroiled in their longest wars ever, military conflicts that had no consistent strategy, let alone measurable goals. Now, as the US licks its wounds as it leaves Afghanistan, NATO members, too, are leaving the devastated country without a single achievement worth celebrating. Similar scenarios are transpiring in Iraq and Syria, too.

Rumsfeld’s death on June 29, at the age of 88, should serve as a wake-up call to American allies if they truly wish to avoid the pitfalls and recklessness of the past. While much of the US corporate media commemorated the death of a brutish war criminal with amiable noncommittal language, some blamed him almost entirely for the Iraq fiasco. It is as if a single man had bent the will of the West-dominated international community to invade, pillage, torture and destroy entire countries. If so, then Rumsfeld’s death should usher in an exciting new dawn of collective peace, prosperity and security. This is not the case.

Rationalizing his decision to leave Afghanistan in a speech to the nation in April 2021, Biden did not accept, on behalf of his country, responsibility over that horrific war. Instead, he spoke of the need to fight the “terror threat” in “many places,” instead of keeping “thousands of troops grounded and concentrated in just one country.”

Indeed, a close reading of Biden’s decision to withdraw from Afghanistan – a process which began under Trump – suggests that the difference between US foreign policy under Biden is only tactically different from the policies of George W. Bush when he launched his “preemptive wars” under the command of Rumsfeld. Namely, though the geopolitical map may have shifted, the US appetite for war remains insatiable.

Shackled with a legacy of unnecessary, fruitless and immoral wars, yet with no actual “forward” strategy, the US, arguably for the first time since the inception of NATO in the aftermath of World War II, has no decipherable foreign policy doctrine. Even if such a doctrine exists, it can only be materialized through alliances whose relationships are constructed on trust and confidence. Despite the EU’s courteous reception of Biden in Cornwall, trust in Washington is at an all-time low.

Even if it is accepted, without any argument, that America is, indeed, back, considering the vastly changing geopolitical spheres in Europe, the Middle East and Asia, Biden’s assertion should, ultimately, make no difference.

The EU’S Role in Libya’s Migrant Trafficking – from Katehon via AltWorld

By Ramona Wadi


To perceive refugees as a dissociated part of the wider narrative is a violation in itself, but who will hold the bloc politically accountable for delegating distasteful tasks to the Libyan coastguard?

In mid-July, Italy’s Chamber of Deputies approved renewing funding to the Libyan coastguard, despite non-governmental organisations urging the authorities to stop financing the failed state’s human trafficking network. Only a day earlier, Amnesty International released a report detailing the trafficking and violations occurring across Libya’s detention centres. European countries have downplayed the documented atrocities against migrants in Libya, preferring to focus on keeping the statistics down.

This week, a boat capsized just off Libya’s coast, with 57 African migrants now presumed dead, among them 20 women and two children. The International Organisation for Migration in Libya (IOM) recently established that almost 6,000 migrants were intercepted and returned to Libya this year so far. Migrants known to have perished in the Mediterranean this year number 970.

International interference in Libya since 2011 and the fall of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi has resulted in a country in which militias compete for territory and power. Vested UN and international interests in the country have exacerbated the humanitarian ramifications.

While the deals which the EU reached with the Libyan coastguard have been deemed controversial by human rights organisations, public sentiment in Europe veers towards pushback. Migration is played as a powerful card across the political spectrum, with both governments and the public fomenting racism and xenophobia. The result is widespread oblivion about the politics which created refugees and failed states.

With governments focused on statistics, reports such as the recent one by Amnesty International exist to inform only those who are already well-informed. Hence the absence of connecting capsized boats to deliberate damage inflicted by the Libyan coastguard to the vessels, resulting in deaths away from Europe’s shores. Neither is the complicity between Libya and European states made evident in terms of the EU financing abuses and torture in Libya’s detention camps. The rift between politics and non-governmental organisations, in the case of migrants, has been reduced to accusations of trafficking, whereas political culpability, which plays a major role in terms of funding the occurring atrocities, is kept out of focus.

In one instance in July this year, the Libyan coastguard was filmed firing at migrants in Malta’s Search and Rescue (SAR) area. The Libyan coastguard also attempted to ram the boat carrying migrants several times.

Researchers have established a link between European arms sales and increased displacement of people. The link between Italy’s funding of the Libyan coastguard and the interception of migrants was also included in the report.

Testimony published in Amnesty International’s report is chilling. “Death in Libya: it’s normal. No one will look for you and no one will find you,” states one quote by a 21 year old male refugee. The oblivion extends beyond Libya. With European governments intent on keeping migrants away from Europe’s shores, the bloc, which is purportedly concerned with human rights, finds it easier to neglect its obligations. No one in Libya would look for a refugee, and no one in Europe would, either, especially since the EU is paying Libya to do its dirty work.

Amnesty International called upon the EU to ensure accountability. However, accountability from within the same paradigm of exploitation will merely create new victims. The EU cheered in 2011 when the NATO coalition intervened in Libya for regime change under the guise of bringing democracy. One bloody consequence of the decision has been the increase in human trafficking of migrants, which the EU sought to quell through militarisation and surveillance, but never through addressing its wrongs. To perceive refugees as a dissociated part of the wider narrative is a violation in itself, but who will hold the bloc politically accountable for delegating distasteful tasks to the Libyan coastguard?

Source: TheAltWorld

The mafia empires of EU, America, Russia and China

The 19th century had robber barons. In this millennia we had this minor crime known as the 2008 financial crisis. The perpetrators went unpunished because of their friends in high places. Washington is run by the most clever and intelligent godfathers: sociopaths who are experts at hiding behind ethics in order to appear good and […]

The mafia empires of EU, America, Russia and China

NATO 2030 – NATO’s Not Going Anywhere

Take a look at this new hashtag #nato2030 all over the massive worldwide, globalist think-tanks and foundations as they “define NATO’s role in 2030″…

Chatham House – New Ideas for NATO 2030

NATO has been a bedrock of security and stability for over 70 years. But today, it is facing an increasingly complex world full of new actors, threats and challenges. How can it guarantee that it will remain fit, united and adaptable in this new world? What hard decisions does it need to take to be fit for purpose in the next decade? In his first major policy speech of 2021, NATO Secretary-General, Jens Stoltenberg, outlines his vision for NATO to 2030 with recommendations from the NATO 2030 Young Leaders – a group he appointed to advise him on how the organization can meet the demands of a rapidly changing world. The event also features the culmination of a week-long policy hackathon that will see students from 10 universities ‘pitch for purpose’ on key strategic themes for NATO 2030: Turning the tide: NATO’s role in defending and re-shaping a values-based international order Full spectrum security: building resilience against economic security risks People first: protecting populations in modern-day conflicts Innovating innovation: next steps in technology cooperation Less is more: reducing military carbon emissions How will NATO continue to be a strategic anchor in uncertain times? How will it adapt to well-known threats such as terrorism and new risks that loom from pandemics and climate change particularly as emerging and disruptive technologies (EDTs) present both dangers and opportunities for its members? And what lessons can be drawn from NATO’s experience that can apply to other multilateral organizations?

GLOBSEC – The Future of Warfare

NATO leaders have asked the Secretary-General to lead a forward-looking reflection on NATO’s future, NATO 2030. As part of this effort, NATO seeks to strengthen its engagement with civil society, youth and the private sector.  This is why NATO is launching the NATO 2030: NATO-Private Sector Dialogues. Facilitated by GLOBSEC, the dialogues will look to deepen the involvement of the private sector across the transatlantic sphere and galvanize their activity in advancing NATO’s collective security agenda. This initiative will begin with a conference on November 25th focusing on The Future of Warfare and the Role of New and Emerging Technologies that will bring together experts from the fields of technology, security, and public policy. Threats in the international security landscape have never been so diverse or so quick to materialize.  From hypersonic delivery systems to the integration of machine-human teaming on the battlefield, quantum leaps in technological development and ultra-connectivity are transforming how nations assess national security threats as well as how they organize societies and engage with citizens. This interplay between technology, society, and conflict is only just beginning, and the Transatlantic community will need critical reflection leading to action to guarantee its peace and prosperity. Going forward, and into 2021, six NATO 2030 dialogues will explore how the private sector can contribute to addressing the most pressing technology-based security risks and contribute to increasing societal resilience across the Alliance. GLOBSEC is proud to have been selected by NATO to lead the engagement with the private sector on this high-profile project. We encourage you to follow GLOBSEC on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and our website where you can find the latest news on #NATO2030​, as well as information about the upcoming conference. You can find all the information about the event here: https://bit.ly/3phVm1l

Munich Security Conference – NATO 2030 Youth Summit

Fourteen emerging leaders from across the Alliance were nominated as #NATO2030​ Young Leaders at the NATO 2030 Youth Summit to assist #NATO​ Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg with input to inform his recommendations for NATO 2030. Here, they introduce themselves and answer questions posed to them by incumbent heads of state, including Zuzana Čaputová, Boris Johnson, Kersti Kaljulaid, Angela Merkel, Mark Rutte, Pedro Sánchez and Justin Trudeau.

Atlantic Council – NATO 2030: Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on strengthening the Alliance in a post-COVID world

As COVID-19 accelerates existing global trends and tensions, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg discusses how the Alliance is embracing this new normal and preparing for the next decade and beyond. For more information, please visit: https://www.atlanticcouncil.org/event…​ —————————— Subscribe for more! https://www.youtube.com/user/Atlantic…​ Driven by our mission of “shaping the global future together,” the Atlantic Council is a nonpartisan organization that galvanizes US leadership and engagement in the world, in partnership with allies and partners, to shape solutions to global challenges. Find out more about us by visiting: atlanticcouncil.org

German Marshall Fund – NATO 2030 – United for a New Era

Speakers: Marta Dassù, Senior Director, European Affairs, The Aspen Institute; Editor-in-Chief, Aspenia Thomas de Maizière, Member, German Bundestag Wess Mitchell, Vice Chairman, Board of Directors, Center for European Policy Analysis Moderator Ian Lesser, Vice President, The German Marshall Fund of the United States At their December 2019 meeting, NATO leaders invited Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg to lead a forward-looking reflection process to strengthen NATO’s political dimension. To support him in this process, Stoltenberg appointed a group of ten experts to answer a broad set of questions, including how to keep NATO strong militarily, more united politically, and how to engage the Alliance globally. In November 2020, the Reflection Group published their conclusions in a report titled “NATO 2030: United for a new Era.” Please join the co-chairs of the Reflection Group to discuss the analysis and recommendations of the report and to explore some of the key issues pertaining to the future of the Alliance.


SFU NATO Field School and Simulation Program- NATO2030 Hackathon

In on February 4th, 2021, a team of NATO Field School alumni participated in the first-ever NATO2030 Policy Hackathon, where they pitched innovative ideas to a wide NATO audience, including the Secretary General. The SFU team was the only Canadian university represented in the competition, and in the end an expert jury panel determined them to have won in their category, Reducing Military Carbon Emissions, and judged their presentation to be in 2nd place overall, tied with Harvard University.

Carnegie Europe – NATO in 2030: Adapting to a New World

With the changing nature of global security challenges, the coming decade will see NATO confronted by emerging world powers, climate change, and new disruptive technologies. Is NATO prepared for this future? Can it balance firm military commitments with political unity and a broader global mandate? Carnegie Europe is delighted to host a virtual discussion on the findings of the independent group supporting NATO 2030 (https://www.nato.int/nato_static_fl20…​), a forward-looking process initiated by the NATO Secretary General in March 2020. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg will give a keynote address, before group co-chairs Thomas de Maizière and Wess Mitchell are joined by Alexandra de Hoop Scheffer and Anna Wieslander for a discussion on the coming decade for NATO. Rosa Balfour will moderate. To submit a question for the event, please use the YouTube chat, email brussels@ceip.org, or tweet at @Carnegie_Europe using the hashtag #NATO2030​. To receive invitations to similar events and alerts of new publications, register here: https://carnegieeurope.eu/resources/r…

Woodrow Wilson Center – Is NATO Prepared for the Future

How well is NATO prepared for the future? NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg asked former German Defense Minister Thomas de Maizière and former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Wess Mitchell to co-chair an independent Reflection Group to take up the challenge.

American Council on Germany – Moving Towards NATO 2030

Dr. Thomas de Maizière, Member of the Bundestag (CDU) and former Defense Minister, and Dr. A. Wess Mitchell, Vice Chairman of CEPA and former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Europe discuss the findings of the independent Reflection Group on the future strategic concept for NATO 2030, established by Secretary General Stoltenberg, which they chaired over the course of nine months in 2020.

European CFR – NATO in a Multipolar World

Discussion on the role of NATO in a world of revived geopolitical competition with a focus on the potential of the transatlantic alliance, organised by the European Council on Foreign Relations – Sofia office. The event took place on 16 December 2020 in a hybrid format with a connection from Sofia. Interview: “NATO 2030 – United for a New Era” – key takeaways, with • Marta Dassù, Board member, ECFR; Senior Advisor for European Affairs, The Aspen Institute Speakers: • Assen Agov, Journalist, Former Member of Parliament and Chair of the Foreign Policy Committee, Bulgarian National Assembly • Dzhema Grozdanova, ECFR Council Member; Former Chair of the Foreign Policy Committee, Bulgarian National Assembly • Dragomir Zakov, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Bulgaria to NATO Moderator: Vessela Tcherneva, Deputy Director and Head of Sofia office, ECFR

Latest from Strategic Culture

The Danger of No-Deal

Josh K. Wicks

Boris Johnson has promised to take the UK out of the EU on
October the 31st, come what may, with or without a deal. Whilst the
government claims it is intent on securing a new withdrawal agreement before
then, in reality this is not going to be possible. The EU has made absolutely
clear that it will not be renegotiating the existing withdrawal agreement and,
even if it were an available option, there is simply not enough time before the
end of October to renegotiate, write and ratify a new 585-page treaty. As a
result, it seems almost definite that the UK will leave the EU with no deal. It
is the view of virtually all experts and vast swathes of the public (myself
included) that this will be a catastrophe.

Firstly, the UK will be erecting trade barriers and have to rely on trading through the World…

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