At the Edge (11-13 November 1999)

17 November 2005

  At the Edge


Towards 21st Century Internationalism

TNI 25th Anniversary (1974-1999)


NATO after Kosovo


The two sessions of the conference about NATO were organised by Project on European Nuclear Non-Proliferation (PENN). This report is available from PENN in hard copy.

Participants: Phyllis Bennis, Praful Bidwai,
Luke Hill, Chris Kijne, Karel Koster,
Otfried Nassauer, Carl Niehaus, Klarissa Nienhuys, Alexander Nikitin, Dan Plesch, Veton Surroi, Cora Weiss, Peter Weiss


The war in Kosovo marked a very important change in international affairs. Before it, the United Nations
was acknowledged to be the sole arbitrator of national conflicts. A Security Council resolution was judged by all to be the sine qua non of foreign intervention. This also meant that there had to be a minimum of consensus between the five officially recognized nuclear weapons states. At the Washington Summit of April 1999, this most powerful military alliance in history took two key decisions:

  • to allow the possibility of waging war outside its boundaries;
  • to reserve the right under certain circumstances to intervene in the internal affairs of other nations.

These choices were indeed momentous, given NATO's continued adherence to its traditional nuclear policies, which include the possibility of the 'first use' of nuclear weapons. Moreover, at that very moment, an 'out of area' operation was taking place. The risks were made all too clear by the near-confrontation with Russian forces, which took place at Pristina airport in Kosovo in June 1999. In the background loomed, as it always did in the Cold War, the possibility of a nuclear confrontation.

Not just politicians and opinion makers were faced with this new situation. Non-governmental organizations, researches and experts involved in security issues and human rights, all had a keen interest in it. Hence, it seemed a good idea for the Project on European Nuclear Non-Proliferation (PENN) to organize an event in Amsterdam, time to take place at the same time as the North Atlantic Assembly, which was meeting in that city in November 1999. Through a fortunate coincidence, it was possible to organize the event together with the Transnational Institute, which at the same time was celebrating its twenty-fifth anniversary.

The programme was divided into two major parts: the first covered NATO's overall policies; the second concentrated on nuclear issues. After a keynote address by Cora Weiss, the opening interview with Karel Koster covered a number of controversial issues, which were taken up in later parts of the programme. Veton Surroi, Alexander Nikitin and Otfried Nassauer participated in a panel discussion on out of area operations. This was followed by a lively discussion with the audience. A multi-media presentation by Dr. Nikitin gave the Russian perspective, which has an importance all its own.

In the second half of the programme,  Karel Koster described the key problems in nuclear disarmament. After that, a panel - which included Ambassador Carl Niehaus, Peter Weiss and Praful Bidwai - debated the dangers of nuclear proliferation and the nuclear arms race. Finally, Dan Plesch of BASIC summarized the alternatives to NATO's policies and ways in which NATO could perhaps be persuaded to follow a different course.

Our report covers most of the discussion and presentations. For practical reasons, we have had to leave out some of the material. However, we are confident that the reader will gain a clear idea of the very useful and will-informed debate which took place.

NATO after Kosovo

Phyllis Bennis: Welcome everyone to the beginning of a fascinating series of discussions that are framed by the concept of 'NATO after Kosovo.' Of course, when we talk about NATO after Kosovo, we are also talking about NATO after the defeat of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty in the United States Senate, NATO after its expanded definitions at its celebratory war-wrapped 50th anniversary, NATO after the US successful efforts to replace United Nations' legitimacy with NATO as giving the permission for international intervention in Yugoslavia, and NATO after the beginnings of what looks to be a long and dangerous process of expansion to the East. So, when we talk about NATO after Kosovo, we are talking about all of those aspects of what NATO is now and of what it is in the process of becoming in this so-called new world order being orchestrated out of Washington.

Beginning today's presentations is Cora Weiss, who is the president of the Hague Appeal for Peace, which I am sure most of you are familiar with.

1. The Abolition of War

Cora Weiss: Thank you Phyllis. Thank you all for being here. I am not going to talk about NATO directly, although at the end of my talk I think it will be clear that if we succeed in what I am talking about, we won't need NATO. As if we ever did.

Fred Halliday this morning spoke about the significance of social movements and of what he calls NGO's and I prefer to call CSO is. NGO I have always thought of as `No Good Organization,' CSO is Civil Society Organization. And I firmly believe in civil society, I firmly believe in people, and I firmly believe in organizing people, but we developed a new strategy towards the end of this century. That was started by a guy in Canada, who is the Foreign Minister, named Lloyd Axworthy, who, when Jody Williams recognised that the Landmine Treaty, the Treaty to ban landmines, was not going to succeed if people alone worked on it, conceived or coined the phrase 'new diplomacy,' which means the collaboration between governments and civil society.

At the Hague Appeal, civil society took an initiative to create a kind of new way of thinking and doing, and to demonstrate that single-issue focus movements could be more effective, if we saw ourselves as bricks building a house of peace and justice, and if we did not just continue going on as single-issue focus movements without a common goal and without recognizing that it takes environmentalists, human rights activists, women, religious community, lawyers as well as peaceniks. It is okay for me to say peacenik, because that is what I have been all my life, and it is not a pejorative term. So, we cannot do it alone, we need each other, we need to reach out to create a more democratic and holistic movement, and we need to see that, no matter what we are doing for social change, we are doing it towards the abolition of war.

Now that is a big idea and a lot of people three years ago said we were crazy to think that we could abolish the institution of war. But just remember that slavery and colonialism and apartheid and women not voting were also big institutions that were protected by taxes and laws and customs and they became so outrageous that people became outraged, overthrew them and today it is totally illegal to own a slave. There are pockets of slavery and pockets of colonialism, of course, but basically it is wrong, it is illegal, and we would not invite a slave-owner to dinner. And so the idea that we can abolish war is no longer an outrageous idea, because the nature of the lethality of weapons makes considering war impossible. As long as there are 35,000 nuclear weapons, 5,000 on hair-trigger alert, as long as we have weapons of mass destruction, we cannot possibly consider war anymore.

The point of the whole story is that it is time to really come down with an end to violence, whether it is in the bedroom or on the battlefield and every institution that is geared to making violence, to relying on weapons, has to change. And it is only going to be with the concerted commitment of fantastic people, like yourselves, that this can happen. And I will wager that it is going to happen, because if it does not I think we can kiss live goodbye. And nobody wants to entertain that thought. Thank you.

Three Arenas of Discussion

Phyllis Bennis: Thank you, Cora. The next set of parts of this panel are quite an extraordinary range of things. We are first going to open up the three arenas of discussion about NATO, those being 'NATO operating out of its own area', 'NATO expansion and European security' and 'NATO is nuclear policy and NATO in the context of changing nuclear realities around the world.'

Karel Koster is from the Working Group Eurobomb, which is the Dutch coalition that deals with European nuclear policy. He is also active with PENN, which deals with European nuclear non-proliferation and BASIC, the British-American Security and Information Centre, which deals with transatlantic security issues. He is going to present a brief, quick overview of each of those three arenas and will then be questioned and challenged by Chris Kijne, who is a journalist here in the Netherlands with radio station VPRO.

2.1 NATO Out of Area Operations and Kosovo

Karel Koster: Right, thank you very much for this. NATO, we have grown up with it, we have learned to live with it, and quite a few of us have learned to hate it as well. There is a new NATO in the make right now and a discussion has been going on among a very broad public whether that new NATO is an acceptable thing, whether it is, one might say, a constructive and positive organization which, according to some people, is even able to bring peace and reconstruction to large parts of the world. We think that this is not the case. We think that people who believe in that are foolishly mistaken and it is time to take a close look at the practical realities of NATO's policies.

NATO out-of-area is one of those areas where NATO seems to think it has the right to perform as an international policeman. The last example of that is of course Kosovo, which is to my mind not an example of a successful intervention out-of-area, but of a very great failure. The failure lies therein that there was no political solution. The seeds of the next problems and the next Kosovo's and the next ethnic problems are already being sown.

The way the solution has been defined is also quite incorrect. The way the solution has been defined has been to create this picture of NATO power being exerted and peace coming to the area. What has actually happened is that a huge international diplomatic effort was made, which included Russia, and through the eye of the needle a form of stability was achieved, which one can hardly refer to as a solution, but at least there was peace.

One of the key things is the UN mandate, which is not at all a luxury, but a necessity. It is a way of maintaining some kind of stability in international relations and there is no alternative for it. Unfortunately, NATO is attempting to create that alternative and I believe that is a very dangerous path it has chosen. We say: look more closely at methods of conflict prevention; if you are talking about punishing countries, then talk about sanctions and selective sanctions; look at methods of dealing with problems that do not reinforce the conflict, and keep war as a very very long-term last resort, and then only when there is a broad communis opinio on applying that sanction. I will leave it at that, for the first item.

Chris Kijne: We have heard all about the plans and we have seen the papers in fact for Operation Horse-Shoe, which was a planned operation for large-scale ethnic cleansing in Kosovo. Why shouldn't we be glad with NATO taking its responsibility for protection of human lives at that point, when there was a stalemate in the Security Council?

Karel Koster: I believe that the way you describe the situation in Kosovo is incorrect. I believe at that moment there was not a complete humanitarian catastrophe. What was happening in Kosovo was an intensive guerilla war with counter-guerilla operations going on with very nasty consequences for a large part of the civilian population, but it was not an genocidal campaign to wipe out the population the way it was presented to us in the media. Operation Horseshoe was to be put in operation as a reaction to NATO intervention.

Chris Kijne: What alternative measures could have been taken?

Karel Koster: Selective sanctions against the elite around Milosevic instead of blanket sanctions which hit the entire population. I think there are ways of doing that. We in Holland are very smart at controlling financial currents and streams and bank matters. Well, why not apply that knowledge to controlling the bank accounts and the financial streams going into and out of Yugoslavia and from which the Yugoslavian elite has gained great advantage?

Chris Kijne: So, why do you think that did not happen? What do you think the actual motives of NATO policy were?

Karel Koster: NATO is an organisation looking for a nice job, for a way to present itself as the solution to all the problems of the world. And this of course was an opportunity to show that it was the solution to those problems. They miscalculated completely in how fast Yugoslav Government would fold, they expected it to fold within two or three days. It did not, and after that they were in a fix. The situation escalated completely. It was at least in part and certainly among the European NATO countries an utter miscalculation.

Chris Kijne: On the other hand you said that the crisis that followed from this intervention was essentially solved by the help of Russian diplomacy. Now, that was Russian diplomacy after three months of NATO bombing. So, I do not think you can completely give the credits for that to Russian diplomacy.

Karel Koster: It was an interaction of factors. The Yugoslav elite's central problem is how to stay in power. If they see that certain forces are being applied which affect their position, they will try to counter them. The military solution, those two or three months of bombing you mentioned, ran exactly counter to what you want to do, namely to isolate the elite from the population.

Chris Kijne: You said, it is quite crucial I think, NATO neglected the fact that there was no UN mandate. How to solve the situation that we constantly have a stalemate in the Security Council because of the stand Russia and China take there in matters like the Kosovo crisis? Would you be in favour of changing the policies of the Security Council, of abolishing the veto right?

Karel Koster: It is often brought as a very key point in Dutch politics. I do not believe it is. I believe that veto right or non-veto right is fairly irrelevant. I think that what happens in the Security Council reflects international political relations and you should be thinking about how to influence those in a positive manner. Find diplomatic means to come to some kind of agreement or deal. If you are talking about Russia, obviously some kind of economic arrangement could be made through IMF negotiations.

2.2 NATO Enlargement to the East

Phyllis Bennis: Now we go to the question of NATO enlargement to the East.

Karel Koster: Basically, NATO has been following a policy of enlargement, which has directly confronted the Russians. I believe that this has been an extremely negative politics in at least one way, namely the effect it has had on Russian internal politics.

The enlargement business is also creating a new barrier across Europe. We are constantly being told that this is not going to be a problem, because, ultimately, more and more countries will come in. Of course, it is the short term that is the dangerous situation. We have a great range of potential conflicts coming up and we think that the right way to go ahead is not to increase the reach and the influence of a military alliance, but to switch to the economic policies of the EU. Of course not the present ones, which make it very difficult for new members to come in, but an EU enlargement based on a far more flexible interpretation of the rules, which amounts to an economic question of redistributing wealth around the periphery of Europe.

Chris Kijne: You started with the expansion policy of NATO being a confrontation with Russia. Somewhere in the programme book I read that it is ripping up Russian sores. But weren't these wounds also not in a way self-inflicted? I mean, the basis of the whole European problem was the occupation by the Soviet Union of the Central European States directly after the World War.

Karel Koster: You are quite right that there was something that is pretty close to an occupation of Eastern Europe that created part of the conditions for the Cold War. However, one has to have a little bit of understanding of the history that went before, which is basically that a large part of Russia was wiped out in the Second World War. That has been an extremely traumatic experience. I believe that it is very important for understanding Russian policies to keep that in mind whenever you are talking about the Russians and about their fears, which are not just the fears of a small elite, but widely present fears.

Chris Kijne: Nevertheless, talking about traumatisation, I think the occupation since the Second World War of the Central European States by the Russian army also had its traumatizing effects on the peoples of Central Europe. And so what to do with their wish to join NATO?

Karel Koster: Well, talk to them and explain to them that the way to security is not necessarily a military alliance. It is merely a repetition of confrontational policy, which will simply replace the border as it was in Central Europe, shift it up a bit, and play the same game all over again. What I am basically saying is confrontational politics is not the way to go.

Chris Kijne: One other point you mentioned was the threat that NATO could get involved in ethnic conflict in Central Europe. Now there are also those observers who state that the fact that these Central Europe states are NATO members now, reduces the risk of ethnic conflict. We can take the Greek-Turkish situation as an example. If both these countries would not have been NATO members, maybe we would have seen a war between Greece and Turkey.

Karel Koster: Well, let me put it this way. The policies towards Greece and Turkey were at the very least contradictory. On the one hand, indeed not so much NATO, but more precisely the United States, bang their heads together occasionally and tell them to "lay off and try not to quarrel, guys." On the other hand, they arm them right to the eye-brows with streams of weapons, which have become superfluous in Western Europe, and continue to do this right to the present day. That is one thing.

The other thing is that in Turkey it has not been all that peaceful at all. For part of the Turkish population, primarily the Kurds, a war has been going on for years. And this was with Turkey being a full-fledged member of NATO.

2.3 NATO's Nuclear Policy

Phyllis Bennis: We have to move to NATO's nuclear policy and NATO's role in an increasingly nuclearised world.

Karel Koster: At its April Summit, NATO decided to hold on to its nuclear policy, along with the other nuclear-weapon states by the way. They continue to maintain their nuclear policies in direct contravention of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, which states quite clearly, in Article VI, that they are supposed to make serious steps towards nuclear disarmament.

It is not happening, I do not see it happening. Instead, there is a dangerous and open policy of continuing to hold on to nuclear weapons, to even develop new ones, to continue along the road of nuclear military logic, building anti-ballistic missile shields and so forth, and ultimately, in my eyes, proliferating nuclear weapons and helping to accelerate that process, rather than the other way around.

Chris Kijne: When you say NATO is sticking to its nuclear doctrine, aren't you disregarding the fact that, for instance, in recent years we have seen a reduction of 85% of the number of nuclear arms in the European theatre, as it is called in military terms?

Karel Koster: Well, there is two things. They have reduced a number of weapons' categories down to lower levels but what is left over is still enough to wipe out the world many times over. As for those tactical weapons which are based in Europe, they are just a tiny part of the entire stockpile available to NATO, but a very important part, because they make NATO countries accomplices to the overall NATO nuclear policy. The Americans have wanted to maintain those tactical nuclear weapons in Europe not because they are all that useful militarily, but because they symbolize the ties between the American nuclear policy and the rest.

Chris Kijne: Would it be wise for the European countries to support the NAC resolution, the New Agenda resolution, and put even more pressure on the United States in a situation where we already have a Congress which refuses to ratify the Test Ban Treaty? I mean, wouldn't that strengthen the forces of isolationist politics in America?

Karel Koster: I do not think it is an isolationist policy, it is unilateralist policy, meaning that a branch of American politics wants to do whatever it likes, wherever it likes in the world and not have anyone interfering with it. I think at this point in time, you have to give very clear signals to the Americans from the European NATO countries.

3. NATO Out of Area Operations

Phyllis Bennis: For the next part of the panel, we are going to look at two sections of the three that I mentioned at the beginning: NATO's role out-of-area and the issue of NATO expansion, in somewhat more depth. At the end of each of these two panels there will be a chance for much broader participation from all of you.

The speakers for this part of the introductions are Luke Hill, who is the Brussels bureau-chief of Defense News Magazine, who will be serving as a questioner and moderator for our two initial speakers. Those are Alexander Nikitin, who is the vice-president of the Russian Political Science Association and the vice-chair of the Russian Pugwash organization, and is speaking here today solely in his individual capacity. Then we have Veton Surroi, who is the editor of Koha Ditore, an independent daily newspaper in Kosovo. He was also part of Kosovo's delegation to the Rambouillet negotiations. After the initial presentations, we will be joined by Ottfried Nassauer from BITS, the Berlin Information Centre for Transatlantic Security, and he will be coming in as a questioner and commentator.

Luke Hill: Firstly, I would just like to point out that NATO out-of-area operations are a new policy of NATO, which was confirmed at the Washington Summit. It does not necessarily correspond to what happened in Kosovo. In fact, most people at NATO would have said that Kosovo is not a typical example of what they have in mind for out-of-area operations.

I would just like all of us to think about NATO out-of-area operations and, as they relate to Kosovo, in terms of whether they are necessary, whether they are effective, if these effects are lasting and therefore if these actions are justified. And if not, what are the alternatives and how do they measure up to this criteria? So, with that I would like to turn it over to you and then we shall have comments.

3.1 A Security Umbrella: A Kosovar's View

Veton Surroi: Well, thank you. I have been asked to talk for five minutes about this issues. Let me tell you where I stand. I am a civil society activist, who has been fighting for about ten years to negotiate a settlement on the
Kosovo situation. These ten years, I was one of the people who, back in '89 and in '90, tried to create what was called a parallel society, which is a way to confront the Serbian authorities by trying to create our own system of education, our own system of health, our own system of daily life, institutionalized parallel life. And I think we got to the point of making Kosovo into the greatest NGO in the world. Because there was no government, all of us were NGO's or CSO's, however you want to call it. Ultimately, as a civil society activist, I suggested and fought for over two to three years to get a negotiating format, which was proposed in Rambouillet. Within Rambouillet, I fought quite hard to get to a negotiating point which would be acceptable for both sides, for the
Kosovars and for Serbia.

However, at the point when a society, not just a regime, is prepared to tolerate or to conduct a campaign of genocide, then there is absolutely no other way to deal with that society, represented in its regime, other than war. Kosovo has been on a very clear path of war since 1989. Some of us tried our very best to keep it out of war and bring it to a negotiated peace. Persistently, we have been confronted with war by a regime and, at some point, by a society that did not want to deal with the issues in negotiations. Negotiations are an issue of consent, are an issue of mutually recognizing the value of each other. A society, which has gone through one genocide at least, in Bosnia, does not recognize the mutual value. At that point, the NATO operation was the only one to prevent genocide from being executed.

Now, having said that, I do bear in mind that it is not a question of morality only. We are also discussing international reality, talking about things like the new world order etcetera. It is good that we can discuss these things in Amsterdam and do it right now. Because I think that what NATO ultimately did, was create the umbrella, in these fifty years, in which there was a possibility for both political and economic growth in Western Europe. Now, part of the new mission of NATO is to ensure the same kind of security umbrella for the nations of South Eastern Europe, in which they too will have an opportunity to develop their societies at the same rate of growth that Western European counterparts have had for so long.

Luke Hill: OK. I would like to give mister Nikitin an opportunity to comment on NATO out-of-area operations, whether they are necessary, effective, lasting and justified.

3.2 Crime and Punishment: A Russian's View

Alexander Nikitin: Dostojevski wrote in Crime and Punishment: "If there is no good, does it mean that everything is permitted to everybody?" Rephrasing this, I would like to ask after NATO's operation in Kosovo: if the United Nations' Charter does not exist anymore, is everything permitted in international relations? Is it possible for any group of strong states to undertake any action it wishes, in any part of the world, without any political mandate from the international community?

As a matter of fact, the NATO operation in Kosovo was not only about former Yugoslavia. It undermined the whole set of rules of international relations, which were settled in the post-Cold War world. It was an operation which was out-of-area, not a collective defence for a group of NATO nations. It was done in the absence of United Nations mandate, it was done in such a way that it provoked a crisis in NATO-Russian relations, and it broke some of the rules of behaviour in the international community, which now approves any future aggressor to attack any individual nation, any sovereign nation, without any political excuses.

Practically, it is important to understand that we have a very clear double standard here, because we have at least dozens of situations on this globe, where human rights are violated and tens of thousands of people are killed while the international community does not interfere. I mean: Is NATO ready to come to help to resolve the issue of Tibet, in China? No? Why? Because China is a nuclear country! Why doesn't NATO come to help the Indians and Pakistanis to deal with Kashmir? Two nuclear countries, too dangerous! Why doesn't NATO start to bomb Moscow because of the mistreatment of the area of Chechnya or Abkhazia? Too dangerous, Moscow has nuclear weapons! OK, then we have some rule set: if the country is strong, and by chance has nuclear weapons, then NATO does not touch it; if the country is weak, then aggression is permitted, then it could be bombed.

Many Russians agree that the general purposes of the operation in Former Yugoslavia were appropriate. The problem is how it was done and how it influenced the international community. The international community is responsible for conflict resolution among its members. And yes, sovereignty is becoming less and less rigid phenomenon at the end of the 20th century. Yes, because of the Internet, of CNN, the state's sovereignty is less and less important, but still, to overstep this sovereignty, some arrangement should be made between nations. Either we do this a civilized group of nations, as the representatives of the international community, and make a political deal involving the whole international community and come to a full understanding of the goals and means and interfere into a conflict. Or, alternatively, some groups of nations start to compete who is stronger, who could bomb some other territory without being bombed in return.

Luke Hill: OK, thank you. I just have one question for you this time. Do you think that when it comes to genocide in Europe, that this may justify, maybe not legitimize, certainly not legalize, violence, but can you understand that motivation to try to stop that?

Alexander Nikitin: Understand is a good word. Yes, I can understand it. The problem is whether understanding that the problem exists is already a permission to react in a very violent way, like bombings.

Somebody said, here, that Russians understand the nature of Milosevic. Let me assure you that this is not the case. It is only in the logic of the Cold War that Russia is now associated with Milosevic and NATO is more associated with, say, the other side. As a matter of fact, it would be much better for both sides, if we do not play as sides, if we find a diplomatic solution with Russia plus NATO and work together, like we did in Bosnia and negotiate with the United Nations the political mandate to do it beforehand.

Luke Hill: Thank you. I would like to give mister Surroi a chance to respond to what mister Nikitin just said. I would also appreciate if you discuss the perception that perhaps NATO has simply by its action turned the table in Kosovo and now another minority faces being oppressed by the other side.

Veton Surroi: Well, the first issue is that the impossibility or incapability of dealing with crises in the Caucasus and China should not have prevented NATO from acting on an active genocide in Kosovo.

The second point is that international law is not the Ten Commandments. International law is developed as is the world developed, and it is expanded as is the world expanded. The question of whether a law should change before action is made, in international law is a question between the chicken and the egg. But actually, the present form of international behaviour came after a terrible war.

What we are seeing is an undeveloped concept by which we have a military action. You get quite a fast covering of all of the duties that KFOR has, but you continuously have the problem of how to establish a civilian administration and what
Kosovo is now a vacuum, an administrative vacuum in which the Serb authorities have not been replaced by either legitimized international authorities. This means that Kosovo is not, unfortunately, ruled by anyone right now, nor by democratically elected
Kosovar authorities. In this vacuum of power, vacuum of security, every citizen is in danger and especially those who are in a minority position. Insecurity is a bad omen for everyone, but it means vital existence to the minorities, and this is the problem that we are facing today.

3.3 Question Time: Sovereignty and Human Rights

Luke Hill: We could welcome questions from the audience for our two panelists here. Do you want to moderate? Yes, sir?

Audience participant: My central question is something like this. First of all, there are universal human rights. Because there are universal human rights, what do we do about the principle of sovereignty and non-interference? If the two clash, then in general the principle we must operate upon is that, because human rights are universal, they take priority over principles of national sovereignty and therefore certain forms of interference are most definitely justified. But it does not follow that all forms of interference, in particular military interference, are justified.

Do we justify military interference to overthrow the apartheid regime, because, if many people died, it carried out genocide against its people? Do we justify military intervention to try to overthrow the Shah of Iran, because he carried out what was considered to be genocide? Is what was happening in Kosovo the same as the genocide in East Timor in which one third of the population was killed? Or is it the same as Kampuchea under Pol Pot in which one third of the population was attacked? And the point here is that you have to be very sensitive with the differences, otherwise we can justify all kinds of things.

Anne de Boer: I am co-ordinator of the project on Eastern Europe of the Green Left party in the Netherlands and working also in cooperation with the European Federation of Green Parties. I want to comment on several points. One is on the intervention in Kosovo and international law. I am a little bit amazed that people here are so law-abiding. Many of us have been overstepping laws to change situations and therefore I completely agree with Veton Surroi in saying that there is needed a development on an international level of law of working together to change situations and to intervene when it is necessary. Genocide was threatening in Kosovo. The Serb authorities, the Serb regime, prepared for war, prepared for cleansing and no negotiations, no offers were accepted by them. So therefore, in the end I am afraid I had to accept this intervention, to support this intervention.

Jochen Hippler (TNI): Basically, the question we are supposed to discuss, whether it was right or wrong what NATO did, depends on what is your main point of interest and your main political starting point. If I would be a person living in the Kosovo, no matter what the details of international laws are or what NATO does or what the Russians do would matter to me. I would definitely support anything that would keep my family members and everybody else from getting into physical danger or getting kicked out of the country or getting killed. So from this perspective it would be very stupid having anything else but praise for the people of NATO sending planes to bomb Belgrade.

From the perspective of NATO it is very obvious that a military alliance with its search of a mission which makes sense to people would definitely utilise a humanitarian catastrophe to gain legitimacy. So, from the perspective of NATO it would have been very stupid not to utilise this humanitarian catastrophe for different ends. For people, however, who are interested in international stability, in peace and in not just one specific part of the world but the overall structure of peace and people living justly together, things look quite different. To them, breaking international law is not just a technicality but one of the key problems we are dealing with.

Audience Participant: I thank you very much, Mr. Surroi, for pointing out some important questions arising from the Kosovo situation. It was nice of you to point out that moderate politicians were trying to establish a suitable intellectual, educational framework for peaceful coexistence between the two peoples in Kosovo, but you did not mention that from the Albanian side people found themselves also in the hands of people who were ready to use more extreme means to gain a solution for Kosovo. There was an upheaval of the KLA in 1998. In addition, the Rambouillet agreement was not a negotiation but an ultimatum, and both sides refused proposals which were brought there. So you said that when peaceful solutions ceased and the only thing which could have happened was NATO intervention. I would say that this Rambouillet agreement was done in such a way that an intervention would be the outcome.

I ask Mr. Surroi what is going to happen in this interregnum time in Kosovo. Do you think that full independence for Kosovo has to be achieved or basically, as a moderate intellectual, that some sort of agreement has to be reached with the Serbs? Thank you.

Surroi: On the question of Rambouillet, it is not true that both sides did not accept it. In fact, I did sign the Rambouillet agreement and the Serbian side did not sign it. The Serbian delegation did not want to negotiate. It spent the first ten days in Rambouillet, believe me because I have seen it, drinking and singing into the early hours of the morning. Had they wanted to negotiate, they would have picked up the negotiating papers on the first day and not leave them to the last 48 hours.

What will be the future? I have been advocating for a long time that it is not in the interest of anybody, within Kosovo or outside the area, to prejudge the future status today. What I think should be done today, is use this interregnum in creating democratic institutions, try to form a tolerant society, try to get an economy moving, and try to get good relations between neighbours. Only then there will be a possibility to make a decision about the future status of Kosovo.

Luke Hill: Yes. This time I would like to bring in Otfried Nassauer to give his views.

Otfried Nassauer: First, on alternative security systems. In two weeks time, the OSCE is going to meet in Istanbul for its summit. What will happen? At present, the US is very much interested in eliminating the option that the OSCE might use force from the OSCE Charter, and also tries to create a situation that allows NATO to use military force without a mandate from either the OSCE or the UN. Here we are clearly in a situation where a process comes to the end, that started in 1990. At that time hopes were existing that the OSCE would come first and we would develop a common European security architecture jointly. This is not going to happen, clearly, in the next years. The US is clearly working in favor of a situation where NATO can actually, literally, whenever it wants, independently of whether the OSCE or the UN agree, use military force. In that understanding, NATO is clearly serving US national interests, because no NATO intervention would take place without US national interests being met.

Secondly, NATO used the figure of a 100,000 people being killed in Kosovo, during the war, to justify their operations. We are talking about very different figures today, I do not have to comment on that.

Finally, the Balkan wars are not over. NATO has not developed a means and a political solution to provide stability to the Balkans. Neither NATO nor the European Union are willing to provide the necessary financial resources to stabilize the situation. There is still a chance that they would and I would prefer that. NATO would become a completely different organization, because it would have to make all the Balkan states, including Serbia, finally a member of NATO. But I do not think that they have the will to do so and my real fear is that, seven months from now, we have another war, in Montenegro.

3.4 Alternatives to NATO: Concluding Remarks

Luke Hill: That leads right into my question, which I hope will wrap up this portion of the conversation. And that is: are there alternatives for NATO out-of-area operations in the future? Does the developing defence policy within the European Union offer that alternative? Are there other alternatives? I would like each of the three panelists to spend two minutes discussing this. Starting with Mr Nikitin.

Alexander Nikitin: OK. Now, we have two violences. On the one hand, the violence of Milosevic against the Kosovo Albanians. On the other hand, the violence of NATO bombings, which caused many deaths amongst the civilian population in hospitals and kindergartens and so on. The question is whether such military violent way of interfering is the right political solution.

My point is that NATO, from the very beginning, was unable and was not even targeting at finding a political solution for the future well-being of the region. NATO was doing its purely military job and was leaving the political task of negotiations, of finding a peaceful solution, a formula for future political arrangements for the area, to somebody else, to OSCE, to UN, to Dayton, to anybody. And that exactly brings us to the point that NATO never even promised to become a conflict resolution body. NATO was and is probably ready to do the violent part of the job.

Veton Surroi: I do not think there are alternatives in security that I could see right now. What I could see is a question that needs to be readdressed by this and every other forum that is interested in peace. And that is: Are NATO countries democratic? Because NATO is not an organism in itself. Have the NATO countries reached a consensus on values about developing stability in Europe. If so, has civil society participated in the creation of this consensus?

Luke Hill: Quickly a few more words on that.

Otfried Nassauer: I think there might a process of developing the European Union into a structure that can conduct firm security policies, which means the European countries cannot be simply overrun by the much stronger and more unified decision making process in Washington, where it is simply only one country, and not fifteen.

Luke Hill: Do you think that would give Russia an opportunity to be a bigger player?

Otfried Nassauer: Absolutely, and it would probably also give a chance to strengthen the OSCE and the United Nations in some way. To my understanding, Russia and the European Union are in some ways more equal. The US is a different class and so it is much easier for the Russians to not play the superpower if talking to the Europeans and thus be much more rational about what they really can do.

Moreover, the European Union is an organisation or institution that starts off as a civilian
organisation and gets a military wing. NATO is a military-only organisation if we leave the scientific part aside. This clearly means that if it comes to crises, the range of options available to the European Union is much wider, if the European Union countries can agree to a common policy.

NATO Expansion: A Russian Perspective

Klarissa Nienhuys: First there is a presentation about NATO enlargement by Dr. Nikitin, which has a clear bearing also on the nuclear policy problem of NATO. Then we continue with the more specific problem of nuclear policy. This part of the program has the clear purpose of giving the audience the opportunity to interact with the speakers.

Dr. Nikitin: Thank you very much. Right now, in relation with NATO, Russia is perceived as the Soviet Union, only a smaller Soviet Union, which is wrong, because, practically, Russia is changing dramatically from the former role of a global superpower to the role of a regional power in the 21st century, and this is a very painful process. Very often Russia is accused of creating security problems for Europe, which does not help the process of establishing a new model of European security. Russia is continually trying to understand what would be the full list of the future NATO members and we really have problems in trying to find out whether the second and third waves of enlargement are expected very soon.

We should understand that the last ten years have brought very important positive results and these could be questioned by the coming changes in the European security architecture. When the Soviet Union was collapsing, everybody expected widespread civil war, as in Yugoslavia. Actually, conflicts - such as in Tadzikistan, Ossetia, Abkhazia and Trans-Dniestria - remained local and did not threaten directly the Western world.

People in the West expected that nuclear weapons would spread out from the Russian/Soviet territory, but no uncontrolled nukes appeared in Europe. Everything was put under secure control, the system of arms control survived, and Russia subscribed to all the former obligations of the Soviet Union. Non-Proliferation policy was reconfirmed in the arithmetic of the post-Cold war in which four equals one. Four countries which inherited nuclear weapons from the Soviet Union - Belarus, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Russia -, all passed them to Russia. There is now only one nuclear country, which applies a non-proliferation policy.

The system of export control was reconfirmed as Russia signed the Wassenaar agreement jointly with the West. The military arrangements between the newly independent states were realized in such a manner that no new Warsaw Pact was created. The Tashkent Treaty between Russia and six other CIS states was signed in quite a positive manner, which was non-confrontational to NATO.

And finally, not so long ago, Russia and NATO signed the CFE. Of course, as happens in real life, love was diminished to some co-founding document, co-founding act, and we were really hoping that it would work until the eleven weeks of air-strikes ruined a lot of expectations. Two processes, NATO expansion and NATO intervention on the territory of former Yugoslavia, changed Moscow's attitude towards NATO.

On several points, we were not able to reach a compromise with Brussels. First, Russia constantly perceived enlargement as political, not military enlargement, and expected that there would be no use of the military structure of new members for NATO purposes. This does not happen, Moscow failed on this point. NATO is using the territory of Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary for military purposes.

Russia expected that there would be no second wave of enlargement in ten to fifteen years' time. Again, this is not happening. The territories for the second wave have already been announced.

I suggest that we compare the new European security architecture to the architecture of styles. For decades, a Cold War security classicism existed in Europe when two pillars of security, the USSR and the USA, were built on the foundation of nuclear deterrence and there was a balance. It was an unpleasant, dangerous structure, but it was stable.

What we have now in European security architecture is a palace. The architectural style is rococo, which is characterized by an abundance of many unnecessary, mostly decorative details. Such a structure was created initially with the hope that the United Nations and the OCSE would do the security and conflict resolution job in Europe, but most of these organizations failed. The European Parliament, the Council of Europe, the UN and the OSCE are very soft on security matters, they are not security players in Europe.

As a matter of fact, the European Union was dreaming about creating ESDI, European Security and Defence Identity, and Moscow had a lot of hopes for that. We were hoping that ESDI would be created as an alternative to NATO and as the next generation security organization, which would be different from NATO. But what do we see now? NATO pretends that it is ESDI, that Europe does not need any other security structure, because NATO could be a military arm of the European Union. Even the Western European Union, which before described itself as a European, military pillar of NATO, now describes itself as a military pillar of the European Union. NATO is the dominant structure now, which is trying to substitute all the others. In the modern political universe of Europe, NATO is definitely a central star.

Before, I saw only two, extreme scenarios for NATO-Russia relations. Military confrontation, which was expected in the Cold War years, or Russia as a future member of NATO, which was the romantic scenario of the years '92-'93. At present, the probability of both military confrontation and Russia joining NATO is very low, but for three or four years, Moscow and Brussels were exploring the intermediate option of a strategic partnership. The joint Russian-NATO council was created as political interface of this strategic partnership.

Exactly this idea of strategic partnership was undermined by Kosovo and by NATO enlargement. And thus, between strategic partnership and military confrontation, the probability of strategic partnership being low, I foresee two different scenarios: low-intensity cooperation and low-intensity rivalry. And if in the last two or three years we were cruising around low-intensity cooperation, political dialogue and joint peace-keeping in Bosnia, now definitely events are moving towards the scenario of low-intensity rivalry.

Moscow is again beginning to see Brussels as the other side, as a potential adversary. Moscow is also breaking its relations with NATO and putting the world on the brink of a new large confrontation between the East and the West. This is why, when we are thinking about the security architecture of the 21st century, we again have a choice: the 21st century as a normal century of peace or the century of World War III. I hope that both Moscow and Brussels would be wise enough to avoid that and to convert the security architecture of Europe into the architecture of peace. All of us need to think over the results of this decade, between '91, when the Soviet Union collapsed, and the year 2000, a decade which brought us a variety of scenarios which we can follow. I hope we would have enough wisdom to choose the best scenario. Thank you very much.

5. NATO's Nuclear Policy

Klarissa Nienhuys: Thank you very much. Karel Koster will set a frame for the rest of the discussion and three speakers: Carl Niehaus, Peter Weiss and Praful Bidwai.

5.1 Turning the Tide: An Introduction

Karel Koster: We are at a juncture, at a crossroads, as of this moment, as far as nuclear policy and our nuclear future is concerned. The one road which we can follow is that of confrontation and the other is that of some kind of negotiated abolition of nuclear weapons. Those are the two choices and there is no alternative.

Why has it come to this? I have mentioned earlier today the Article VI obligations. There are others as well: the International Court of Justice Advisory Opinion, and of course a massive public opinion which wants to abolish nuclear weapons. It is not happening and it is not happening for at least one reason, and that is that the Nuclear Weapon States are hanging on to their weapons. The NATO Summit, I have already mentioned that as well, has reaffirmed that it will maintain nuclear weapons as part of its strategic doctrine. And that is a path to confrontation which can only lead, ultimately, to disaster.

On the other hand, an attempt has been made by a coalition of states, known as the New Agenda Coalition, last year, and this year again, to present an intermediary solution. The New Agenda Coalition, as you probably know, consists of countries like South Africa, New-Zealand, Ireland, Sweden, Brazil, Mexico and Egypt, and they tried by a negotiating process to change their resolution into a form which would be acceptable to the NATO states, to get them along and get some kind of dynamic going in the negotiations towards nuclear abolition, which have come to a very bad situation. At the United Nations, at the beginning of this week, a vote was taken and unfortunately the NATO states again abstained, which, I suppose, is better than being against this particular resolution, which is, of course, what the Nuclear Weapon States again chose, that path of being against it.

Now, ahead of us, there are only some chances of still turning this tide. One of them is an evaluation process, if one can call it that, inside NATO, which is an attempt by some of the NATO states to shift NATO policy to some kind of evaluation process, which again implies that there may be some change, perhaps. And the other is, of course, the Review Conference of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, which will take place in the coming spring and where there will be one last chance to change the way this massive negative movement is developing, to keep most of the rest of the world on board, believing in this process of non-proliferation. Whether that will succeed will perhaps depend on our own efforts and political efforts of a number of countries in the coming months, but I must say that I am less than overly optimistic about it. Thank you for listening.

5.2 South Africa: Eroding the Comfort Zone

Klarissa Nienhuys: Carl Niehaus will say something more about the opinion of South Africa in his capacity as ambassador to the Netherlands for his country. South Africa has been a very strong in developing policies to reduce nuclear arms proliferation in recent years.

Carl Niehaus: Well, thank you very much. And as you quite correctly say, the importance of this issue for South Africa is well-known and it was again recently demonstrated by our very active participation in the New Agenda Coalition and also the promotion of the New Agenda Coalition resolution, which was tabled in the United Nations General Assembly again, in the course of the past week. Now, to our disappointment, the nuclear disarmament debate is characterized by what one can call a general unwillingness on the part of the Nuclear Weapon States to enter into really substantive negotiations.

In contrast to this position, the idea of the non-nuclear weapons states, and not least of all South Africa, is that nuclear weapons by their very nature threaten all countries and therefore nuclear disarmament is a distinctly multilateral issue. In order to avoid any confusion, I would like to make it clear that this is not to say that the non-nuclear weapon states believe that we can interfere in that bilateral and pluri-lateral process, but in our view the multilateral negotiation of a set of interlocking agreements and treaties can provide a supportive basis for the bilateral process and in fact this is in short the primary rationale behind the New Coalition initiative.

I do not think I am telling you something new when I say that in our view the position of NATO is rather difficult with regard to nuclear disarmament. With the exception of the United States of America, France and Britain, all of the rest of the members are committed under the NPT not to pursue the nuclear weapons option and not to participate in nuclear sharing arrangements and yet, nuclear weapons form a key element of the overall NATO Strategic Concept and thus the position of the non-nuclear weapon states is indeed paradoxical, in that they are committed to the elimination of nuclear weapons, while at the same time those weapons are a key element in their defence arrangements.

The latest NATO Strategic Concept Document has subtly changed the role which nuclear weapons play in the defence of the allied states as being so-called necessary in order to ensure a credible response and to make the risk of aggression against the Alliance incalculable and unacceptable. Now this is why they were understood to mean that beyond the previous rational of the retention of nuclear weapons, they could in future also be used as a response to chemical or biological attacks.

Now, in the light of this situation that we are faced with, it is all the more a great pity that a country such as the Netherlands did not see its way open to vote in favour of the NAC resolution at the General Assembly. Such a vote would have made a significant contribution to give a new impetus to the nuclear debate and also to strengthen those of us who do want to move forward. It is our sincere hope that the Netherlands could adjust its approach prior to the 2000 Review Conference of the NPT.

We believe it is vital for the success of the 2000 Review Conference that the results of that Conference meet the exceptions and expectations of all the member states. The role which NATO states, especially such as the Netherlands, could play in ensuring the successful outcome of the NPT we believe is particularly significant. The deadlock which has been created by the unwillingness of the Nuclear Weapon States to enter into substantive debate on the way foreward in the NPT can be overcome by the erosion of the comfort zone, which is provided by NATO solidarity arguments. In fact, the New Agenda Coalition resolution was debated in the parliaments of the Netherlands, of Italy, of Germany, of Belgium, but not in the American Congress.

Now, I believe that the threat posed to the non-proliferation regime by the failure of the United States ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, the nuclear test explosions in South Asia and also the proposals by the United States to develop a national missile defence, precipitates the need for an urgent opening of the public debate on nuclear issues. And with this I want to conclude, because we believe that the role of non-governmental organizations or civil society organizations, as Cora Weiss said this afternoon, is to stimulate this debate and bring in the necessary pressure to bear on national governments to review their long-held positions on these vital issues.

5.3 US: Counteract the Complacency

Klarissa Nienhuys: Thank you very much. I think you set the stage for our two next speakers, who are both members of important NGO's. I first would like to give the floor to Peter Weiss, who is president of the Middle Powers Initiative Steering Committee, as well as president of the International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms. I think you can better explain what these organizations do than I could.

Peter Weiss: OK. In response to your request, madame chair, I will say that IALANA is the organization which has led the case against the Nuclear Weapon States in the International Court of Justice and obtained the decision in 1996, which held that the use and threat of use of nuclear weapons was generally illegal under international law and, very importantly, held unanimously that there is a general obligation to engage in and bring to a conclusion negotiations for complete nuclear disarmament. The Middle Powers Initiative is also a Civil Society Organization, one which works very closely with so-called little power governments and which has been trying, and as you heard unsuccessful in recent months, to change the vote on the New Agenda Coalition resolution, but which will continue its dialogue with governments in an effort to bring about a wider coalition of states demanding that the Nuclear Weapon States comply with their legal obligations.

That leads me to make a brief remark on the previous session, which I find somewhat disheartening as an international lawyer, because I heard too many people say that international law is a kind of a flexible thing full of holes, like a big piece of Swiss cheese, and that is the kind of thing that you use when you can and that you do not use when there are supervening demands from morality or other factors. With that kind of attitude we are never going to get a world under a rule of law.

We cannot confine ourself to the kind of incrementalism and gradualism that it seems to me the previous discussion characterized. We have to talk about peace and we have to talk about the abolition of nuclear weapons, and not just saving the NPT, as the programme said and we have to talk finally about the abolition of war, which is what the Hague Appeal for Peace was about.

One piece of good news is that I understand from very reliable sources that my Government is very concerned about what is going to happen at the NPT Review Conference in May and that they are afraid that, having made absolutely no progress towards serious nuclear disarmament in the five years following the last NPT Review Conference in 1995, that there will be very strong voices raised which may threaten the survival of the NPT. The fact that the NPT Review Conference may turn into a major disaster is a piece of very good news, because what we need right now is something to counteract the complacency.

5.4 India: A grotesque form of immorality

Klarissa Nienhuys: Thank you very much. The next speaker, Praful Bidwai, is a journalist, who has written at least one piece a week during the last three years, I have counted, and is author of several books, also on the subject of nuclear disarmament. He is co-founder of the movement in India for nuclear disarmament and the South Asians Against Nukes NGO.

Praful Bidwai: Let me start with the CNN-driven image of the popular reaction in India and Pakistan to the nuclear weapons' tests of May last year. That image, I have to report, is fundamentally wrong. It was only a very tiny minority of people who jubilated and who celebrated the Indian or Pakistani nuclear tests. The vast majority of Indians were far more circumspect and have since moved to a much more critical position.

It's also quite clear that, contrary, again, to what was propagated in the international media, there was no political consensus on the crossing of the nuclear threshold. If there was a consensus, it was on, perhaps on maintaining a capability, but not exercising it, and even this consensus was not complete.

Two months ago, the so-called draft nuclear doctrine was published. This is as yet to be adopted by the government. It was prepared by a group of the National Security Council, but is a very important and very negative landmark indeed. This, like NATO nuclear strategy, places a lot of irrational faith in nuclear deterrence and it completely reverses the very feeble attempt made by India last year, to present itself as a relatively reasonable power. This doctrine negates the notion of
minimalism, because it talks of a very developed open-ended triadic nuclear arsenal, with perhaps hundreds of nuclear weapons. It is meant to be both based on land, air and sea, involving a completely open-ended development of technology in all respects.

This will not only, and has not only, provoked a hostile reaction from Pakistan, but very importantly from China. Chinese nuclear strategists now quite openly say that, should India even come anywhere near a hundred warheads, then China will revise its entire nuclear posture, including its no first use commitment. China is reported to reconsider a programme to develop a missile with the kind of range that would hit targets in India and the Philippines, a programme which had been suspended as a result of the improved relations with India in the mid-1990s.

This will also, I think, further distort developing priorities in India, which have already taken a beating. At the same time as India decided to go nuclear last year, it also put on hold indefinitely a programme to universalize primary education. The costs of such a programme for basically bringing back to school children who drop out of school and giving them elementary education are of the same order as what a tiny arsenal would have cost. Today, with a large arsenal being planned, we are really talking about a huge amount of diversion of resources. India's defence expenditure will probably double in the coming years, which is a totally grotesque form of immorality.

During the Kargil conflict, nuclear threats, direct or indirect, were exchanged no fewer than thirteen times by Indian high officials and ministers. Thirteen times. Imagine this. The flight time for missiles between India and Pakistan is as short as three minutes. Not enough, even with the best of will to start doing damage control, to bring a crisis within manageable proportions. The two have fought three full-fledged wars, one half war, and have had military exercises going out of control. Domestic developments can effect their mutual relations in a matter of hours. The coup in Pakistan is another very very dangerous development, showing the sheer fragility of the establishment in Pakistan.

Let me conclude by saying that, unless we have an international level initiative that supports nuclear disarmament and restraint, it will be completely unrealistic to expect genuine restraint being exercised by India or Pakistan, or some kind of limitation of a nuclear arms race. I think, short of a miracle, only a huge civil society mobilization globally, which puts pressure on the states, allows for some progress to be made on a number of issues of nuclear restraint and can possibly yield some positive result in South Asia. Otherwise, I think the likelihood of the nuclear arms race worsening and getting out of hand, involving China as well, is very very real. Thank you.

5.5 Question Time: Nuclear Disarmament

Klarissa Nienhuys: Thank you very much. I think all speakers, including Mr. Nikitin, gave an international context to this problem of the nuclear policy of NATO, that it is not only concerning NATO but a broader problem of the abolition of nuclear weapons in general and in specific areas, which interact with each other. I would like to give the floor to the audience.

Achin Vanaik (TNI): I like a reaction from Peter Weiss and the South African Ambassador. Apart from the incrementalist measures we do need some kind of comprehensive approach. Of course, the two candidates have been the setting up of an ad hoc committee on global disarmament and a nuclear weapons' abolition convention, for which IALANA has also provided a model draft.

Cannot South Africa, or some other country of the NAC for example, take the initiative to try and develop some kind of critical mass of countries, even if they exclude the Nuclear Weapon States, to come together and say: "Look you have this critical mass, let's start a nuclear weapons abolition convention?"

Niehaus: I think that we have to be very careful at this stage to say: Let's immediately go for that kind of nuclear abolition convention. My sense is that we need to try to bolt what we have been trying to do with this New Agenda initiative that has been taken. And I believe that the New Agenda Coalition initiative has provided a clear step by step process. I would be very careful to think that we can now make that kind of jump which at the moment, if we look at what the state of play and the state of debate on the nuclear issues is, is not feasible, is not possible at this stage.

KN: Is there anyone who wants to comment on this from the audience?

Korthals Altes (World Conference on Religion and Peace): I have been a former ambassador of the Netherlands. I am extremely grateful for the presentations. I think all of us realize that the doors are wide open for proliferation. The great, the big question for all of us is: how do we get a public debate on the NAC going, that is the big issue. Thank you.

Peter Weiss: Well, at the risk of disagreeing slightly with ambassador Niehaus, I would say that coercion is a good thing normally but if coercion means: let's wait until we can get the Nuclear Weapon States on board for a conference, you have a very very long wait. I think the question referred to the Ottawa process, which brought us the land mines convention. The CD, the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva, was not going to deal with the landmines question, because some of the major powers, including the US, did not want to discuss it in the CD. But Canada took the initiative in organizing a negotiating forum outside of the CD.

As you pointed out, we have already drawn up a hundred page convention. I took three years to do it and we thought about a lot of things, and the purpose of that convention, was not to say: 'here, sign it,' but is just to show that it is possible to deal with the many difficulties involved in nuclear abolition. And I think the convening of a convention such as you mentioned, would serve that purpose as well.

I just want to make one other point. I do not want to be understood as saying that I want the NPT conference to fail. What I was trying to say was that I hoped the NPT Review conference would send some signals to the Nuclear Weapon States that it is really time for them to get moving.

Hans Feddema: I am an optimist but still I do not believe so much in nuclear disarmament. There is in my opinion a very big interconnection, interchange between nuclear danger and power rivalry, between nuclear danger and weakening the international order. I was against the Kosovo war of NATO, because if you ask the help of a big military organisation like NATO, always the power dimension is involved. It was not for nothing that Serbia was a target, which was in another influence sphere.

My question to Mr. Nikitin is: Is it true that, due to this confrontation, China, Russia and India are considering an anti-NATO pact, or is it only a rumour?

Nikitin: Briefly answering: yes, it was announced as an initiative of the former prime minister of Russia, Tsjernomyrdin, and Primakov that Russia, China and India would try to create a trilateral international alliance, but of course several things should be understood with a bit of salt. A power like India, like Russia, like China, has its own practices and interests. To create a trilateral alliance of such countries would require half a century probably.

Let me stress, however, that the creation of alliances would be very dangerous. It would be much more civilized for Bejing, for Moscow, for Delhi, to be civilized participants in the international arrangements, like the UN, like the OSCE, and not to play with such risky arrangements as three against seventeen, three against nineteen, and so on.

Praful Bidwai: I think it is a completely unrealistic idea for India to want to join such an alliance. At present, ruling class and policy makers are basically keen on developing a close strategic alliance in relationship with the US. That is their biggest priority.

This is a complete transformation of India's role. Forget the India that was non-aligned, forget the India that moved resolutions calling for a special session on disarmament at the UN. Forget it. India is going to behave like a loyal member of the nuclear club, a third class member of the nuclear club, because its priorities will be those of the Nuclear Weapon States, in particular the US.

Alex Veldhof: The problem is that we do here as if NATO is a fashionable organisation. Well, in relation to nuclear weapons, it is important to remember that NATO is in fact commanded by the government in Washington, which is a nuclear power and a state which in the past fifty years has threatened numerous other countries with its nuclear power. How can you rely on NATO in preserving nuclear peace if, as the American specialists Noam Chomsky and Edward Herbert said, the US are the number one terrorist country in the world?

Bart van der Sijde: I am a member of Pugwash Nederland and the IKV. I think indeed the NPT is in very great danger, but I want to stress the position of the NATO non-nuclear weapon states, which is, in my opinion, illegal in the framework of Non-Proliferation Treaty. Especially the six with nuclear weapons on their territory, are a kind of semi-nuclear weapon states, but this position is not foreseen in the Treaty. We have five nuclear weapon states, and the others, who are party to the Treaty, are expected to be non-nuclear. You can say that NATO as such operates as the sixth nuclear country, or maybe the eighth and ninth, apart from the five.

Caroline van der Stadt(WILPF): The word solidarity was mentioned already. And I understand that NATO membership is a symbol of inter-alliance solidarity with the USA. Isn't it time to redefine the meaning of the word solidarity? Because I do not think domination is one of the components of solidarity.

Francis Lee from Korea: I understand that these days some of the biological and chemical weapons produce more destructive effects than nuclear bombs. Because of the international power politics' monopoly of nuclear bombs of a few number of countries, there is a great temptation of other countries of middle or smaller power to stick to these new, cheaper weapons of mass destruction, like biological and chemical weapons. So, common sense would tell me this non-proliferation issue should be approached in a combined way and not in a separate regime, and the nuclear issue by itself may produce other effects, like sticking to cheaper weapons.

Peter Weiss: Is NATO run by Washington to a large extent? Yes. By the way, Washington has a position that was announced at the time the NATO treaty was signed that it has never changed, that has to do with nuclear sharing. That is, in the case of war, it is Washington's position that other members of NATO could be required to deploy and operate nuclear weapons. I think, maybe that answers the second question as well.

As to the need to redefine domination and solidarity, I think that is going to be very difficult to do in the context of NATO. I think as long as you have NATO you will be undermining the UN, and you will not be moving towards a true international security system.

You have the conventions, you have the attempt to deal with biological and chemical weapons. I do not think you will ever be able to eliminate biological weapons completely, because they can be made on a kitchen table, but I think a lot can be done to restrict the danger of those weapons.

Carl Niehaus: When one reads a statement, such as I have read this afternoon, it may sound very boring, because it is also a statement where, as an ambassador of my country, I am bound to make a very careful evaluation of what we believe is the current position and what is feasible and what is possible. But having done so, I do not want for one single moment anyone here to misunderstand how critical it is for us to be able to move ahead, and how critical it is for South Africa, who was one of those countries who unilaterally had taken the position to get rid of the nuclear weapons which the previous apartheid regime had in South Africa. So our commitment to finally bring an end to nuclear weapons as it also stands in article six of the NPT and in fact as it is also expressed in the NAC resolution, should not be in anyway doubted.

What we are concerned about is what is the practical, realistic, achievable way in which to do this. A number of statements have been made this afternoon about the fact that NATO is dominated by the United States of America. Of course, it is a fact, we do not need to debate that. The issue that we need to debate is how are we going to put pressure on the US and the other Nuclear Weapon States to be able to move forward.

How is it realistically possible to do that? The realistic way to do that is to make sure that those non-nuclear weapon states within NATO, where there is a strong public opinion that we should move in order to bring an end to nuclear weapons, can take a position that will not mean that they will toe the line of the US.

Praful Bidwai: First, as an outsider, I am struck and deeply dismayed by the lack of will that the European states have shown to reform NATO. Ten years after the Cold War ended, what the hell is NATO doing, what is it about? It lost its fundamental rationale. Nuclear weapons, each single nuclear weapon in possession of NATO should be dismantled. It is a crying shame that that is not happening. I am struck also by the lack of initiative of a number of political parties, perhaps even of civil society organizations in Europe.

I do not believe that it is impossible to get rid of biological and chemical weapons. We do have a pretty good chemical weapons' convention with a strict system of verification, which can be a model, and I think a similar protocol is on the agenda for the biological weapons' treaty and so on. So, it is possible to do that, but I take the point that unless you
de-legitimise weapons of mass destruction and unless you devalue them as a currency of power, you are not going to be able to sustain a true momentum towards disarmament and show yourself that such weapon will not be made, used or deployed and so on in the future.

6. New Job for NATO: A Dream

Klarissa Nienhuys: Without further ado, I give the floor to Dan. Dan is director and founder of the British Security Information Council in London, which works together with Karel Koster and the group in Berlin and Brussels in the PENN network.

Dan Plesch: Well, I was asked to talk about a dream and imagine that I was secretary general of NATO. It feels a little bit more like a nightmare, I must say. I suppose being English, if I was secretary general of NATO, the first thing that would happen is that I would become a Lord. So I suppose I am a Lord and you are, I suppose, a slightly expanded NATO council, not 19, but maybe 50 or so, a fully expanded NATO, a citizens' NATO perhaps. I would like to thank the excellent presentations from my policy planning staff during the course of the afternoon, to which I have little to add in respect to the analysis in the present situation.

I would like to do three things this evening. The first is just to leave you with some models, some frameworks for thinking and perhaps for talking to other people about these issues. Secondly, to talk a little bit about my crystal ball over the next couple of years, what we will have to face. And thirdly, and by no means least, a programme that Phyllis Bennis, earlier on, and other speakers have talked about, of what we should do. Well, I would hope to offer some suggestions.

First of all, to models. We keep talking about NATO. NATO as such is not a thing. It is a mess, a committee of trade-offs and arguments, and bargains and wrangles, which makes any peace movement discussion and complexity look trivial. So do not think and talk of it as a in the first person singular, think of it as a form of collectivity; except when something definitive happens.

The second is to realize that NATO is a very small part of the picture from Washington and a very big picture from Europe. Look at it from the other end of a telescope. Europe and much of what we are discussing from Washington is a sideshow with respect to the new game in Washington, which is about bringing China into Washington's fold. And that is a big objective driving American policy with respect to the CTBT, the ABM treaty.

My next model will be that of a very moderate democratic American, Mr. Brezinsky. He wrote a wonderful book a couple of years ago: The Grand Chessboard. In this book, he talks very nicely about how America should manage its Eurasian hegemony and at one point says essentially: "If you are a bit too stupid to understand what I said so far: in the old days of empires we would say that the real imperatives were to keep the barbarians at bay and divided, to make those tributary countries who you are protecting properly protected and make sure that your vassals, your allies, are divided and cannot gang up against you." And that means of course the Europeans, who are at the moment in financial terms actually looking like getting themselves together. I would summarize that the objectives of the secretary general's desk of dealing with all these problems, to be: to keep the Russians relaxed, to keep the Europeans lame, so they cannot run too far, and to keep the Americans tame, if not sane.

And this brings me to the real imperative that one hears from a great many policy makers. There is a great deal that Western officialdom will not talk about in public but they desperately need our help. As secretary general, with that hat on, I would say: we need the peace movement, and those NGO's in particular who supported us going into Kosovo need to engage with us on these other issues, because we need support. So, when we think about the political freedom of action of our foreign ministries, we should be aware that on the receiving end they are often a lot more aware of pressures even than we are.

My last model, perhaps for discussion with the public on all of this, is the riot squad model. If you are trying to keep the peace in Amsterdam and the only thing you had available to you was the riot squad, then that is what you would need. You would not have cops dealing with drunks on the street corner, you would not have courts, you would not have social services, let alone community workers, probation services, employment programmes and all the rest of the programmes of social cohesion and conflict resolution and so on. The blocks would be burning and the discussion in the Town Hall would be that the riots squad needed more and better equipment to make sure it dealt with the riots properly and did not kill people living next door and precisely
targeted the rioters.

Well, that is the situation as I would see it with the Alliance. We do not have any other tools at our disposal. Every time you want to send monitors, human rights observers, any of these things, they have to be called together from scratch. If you want to get a squadron of aircraft with a couple of bombs underway and if you are a defence minister, you can pick up your phone and do it. If you are a foreign minister or prime minister and you want to send something else, it simply does not exist.

And one of the reasons why we in Europe should concentrate on this is the likelihood that the Americans are not very interested. It is a way for Europe to develop its identity, without threatening the Americans and actually helping prevent situations where the Americans maybe have to go to war to avoid domestic embarrassment. It is a way of keeping it off the radar screen. We should start the development of capacities which in Europe are desperately needed, and do not cost a lot of money but no one has really focused on. And I have to say many of the NGO's working in the field would do well to address that.

I do not want to reiterate what has been said, but people sit around in liberal, progressive arms control organisations in Washington and say: "Hmmm, arms control is dead, shall we have another cup of coffee?" Well, that is the overwhelming view in Washington. That means they will be delighted if the NPT collapsed, more reason to build more nuclear weapons and to sell ABM-systems to the Japanese and the Europeans. So, peace activists must not mess around with these agreements, on the assumption that the hardliners actually want them. I think the collapse of the Test Ban Treaty is a shock wave that has yet to run through, especially in Western capitals. And we are likely in the next few years to see more serious consideration in Japan of the nuclear option. There is a knock-on effect of policy considerations in East Asia with American policy towards China at the heart of it.

Finally, a programme. What are we to do? I have five extremely quick points, wearing my BASIC hat.

The first is, in our analysis, I would have urged much greater attention to the quality of the sources you are using. As a historian I think a lot of what we regard as fact is dubious in the extreme. If you confine yourself to what you can actually confirm as actually being true, which is actually said or intended, then you have got a lot less work to do because there is a lot less material.

Secondly, to look forward, and this is something that we do. With colleagues such as Peter, we have been instrumental in helping the World Court decision, the decision partly led by Germany to get a review in NATO nuclear policy and I can name a dozen others, where serious incremental changes in government and international policy have taken place because of the pressure and lobbying of a tiny number of NGO's with infinitesimal resources. So do not despair: will and concentration can get us a very long way.

Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, we cannot just rely anymore upon our American friends to deal with what we might call the risk of the American rogue nation. All of the churches and fundamentalists whom we like to deride and laugh at have their websites and their chat rooms all across the Mid West. If we organize ourselves only slightly, we should begin to enter into a very serious, restrained and respectful dialogue with people in the middle of the US about the actions that their representatives take, how they effect us and how we see that. I had put to me by cabinet members of Western governments that this should be done, because there are so many issues around the world that come back to the voting habits of a very few million Americans and a handful of US senators.

Fourthly, we need to invent new institutions for a new millennium. Most of the institutions we have today were created in the 19th century. We have to create new ones, and I would simply say, we should start calling for direct election of our representatives to the UN, to NATO, to the World Trade Organisation, to the IMF, that we should elect these people directly, not through the civil government bureaucracy. People are uninterested in elections these days in my opinion because they are electing people who are not doing anything very powerful. We need to apply the sovereign power of the people to institutions that actually matter to them.

Finally, coming back to our old friend NATO. I would simply say we need to react to the public understanding that NATO is a wonderful organisation, doing wonderful things. And I have got a new job for them: NATO should lead the world to nuclear disarmament. And as we talk of politicians in the press, we should take the assumption that this wonderful alliance of democracies should be leading us forward in this way, and then let the advocates of NATO explain why they cannot quite do that. Thank you.

PENN, Working Group Eurobomb
Obrechtstraat 43
3572 EC Utrecht
The Netherlands
Tel (+31) (0)30 271 4376
Fax (+31) (0)30 271 4759