What a broad strategy Firewire is after the movie

The new vision of peace

For decades, the hallmark of East-West confrontation was a deterrent strategy based on the ability to destroy one another and thus make war impossible. This week US President George Bush invalidated this strategy of deterrence through punishment, which was so successful in the Cold War. New risks and other actors forced this change as well as the almost unlimited access for everyone to weapons of all kinds after the dissolution of the East-West confrontation.

The new and future owners of weapons of mass destruction assume different thinking and different values. Including them in the highly complex system of conventional deterrence is unlikely to be possible. Many of the new actors are not predictable, but predictability was a prerequisite for the deterrent strategy of the past. Where predictability is lacking and weapons of all kinds are relatively easily accessible, it is advisable to give defense priority over deterrence, but without giving up the latter entirely. This is what the American President has announced. It remains to be seen whether it will be a paradigm shift. What seems certain, however, is that with his speech on Tuesday at the National Defense University in Washington, Bush initiated the process of birth of a new strategy. The consequences will affect everyone: Germany, Europe, NATO, Russia, China, the whole world.

Bush has described the changed international situation, the continued pursuit of weapons of mass destruction and missile technology by states (e.g. Iraq or North Korea) whose aim is to intimidate neighbors and prevent their friends and allies from coming to their aid in a crisis. He concluded that the Cold War deterrent strategy was no longer sufficient to keep the peace. The key message of the speech is: "Today's world demands a new policy, a broad strategy of active non-proliferation, counter-proliferation and defense.

We must work with like-minded nations to deny access to weapons of terror to those who wish to acquire them. We must work with friends and allies who want to join us in defending themselves against the damage they can do. Together, we must deter anyone who contemplates using it. We need new deterrence concepts based on both offensive and defensive forces. Deterrence can no longer be based solely on threats of nuclear retaliation. Defense can strengthen deterrence because it reduces the incentive for proliferation. "It was in this context that he classified his statements on missile defense, nuclear arms control and the reduction in the number of nuclear weapons available.

So it is a whole package of measures, each of which cannot be viewed in isolation. Missile defense is no longer an individual project, nor is it a national project, but is part of a comprehensive strategic overall concept that seeks to counter the dangers of tomorrow together with the allies and friends of the United States, but not with the resources of yesterday. One of these means from yesterday is the ABM Treaty of 1972, which is overestimated by many - especially in Germany - in its current significance. The President leaves no doubt that such a treaty - which incidentally provides for termination as well as revision - will not prevent him to do what is necessary to protect his country and world peace.

Bush stressed the continued importance of nuclear weapons in his speech, but announced that he would soon be scaling back the US nuclear potential and changing the composition of the US nuclear force. This is the component that should continue to contribute to deterrence in the future, but will no longer be the only vehicle for a strategy aimed at punishing the peacebreaker. It is complemented by an element of missile defense designed to protect the United States, even American forces stationed outside the United States, and America's friends and allies. The President outlined this future defense system, which should initially consist of land- and sea-based weapons, which should intercept approaching missiles in the middle of their trajectory (mid course intercept) or after re-entry into the atmosphere (terminal intercept).

He indicated that one is well aware of the advantages of interception in the start phase (boost phase intercept) and that corresponding air- or sea-based systems could offer limited but effective protection in the future. But Bush also indicated that there are still no specifications regarding this future defense system, but that there are currently insufficient, initial skills and that a lot of work is required before the system can be operational. However, he left no doubt that a defense system would be established. It is unclear when it will be ready for action, what elements it should consist of and how the suggestion will be implemented to incorporate offensive armed forces into the concept of deterrence.

George Bush has announced intensive consultations with friends and allies of the USA and called on Russia and China to enter into a dialogue. In this respect, his speech at least sketched the framework within which the details will now have to be worked out and on which the future structure of the American armed forces will be oriented. With regard to the development of a new strategy, this speech is as important as the book "The Uncertain Trumpet" published at the beginning of the 1960s, in which the former US Chief of Staff Maxwell D. Taylor called the abandonment of the strategy of massive retaliation and the Turning to the strategy of flexible reactions had formulated.

The fact that Bush left a lot open gives the allies a good chance to bring their views into the consultation process and thus to exert influence. But you should also recognize that certain elements are non-negotiable for the US. This includes the three-element composition of the strategy as mentioned by Bush: non-proliferation (of weapons of mass destruction), counter-proliferation (the active prevention of the use of such weapons) and defense (against such weapons). This includes the fundamental decision in favor of missile defense, but also the expansion of deterrence through the use of offensive and defensive forces.

What will have to be negotiated is the question of what all this means for the NATO strategy of 1999 and thus for the allies and their armed forces, how stability can be maintained in such a strategy and what role new arms control approaches can play in it. What is certain is that the US is by no means striving for invulnerability because it knows that it will not exist. Even the always unfounded allegations that the United States is striving for sole world domination are irrelevant: Bush has made a clear declaration that even the only superpower can only achieve security together with friends and allies, despite its enormous superiority in almost all relevant policy areas. In this respect, the speech was an offer for cooperation. If the Europeans take advantage of the offer to consult, it can be a golden opportunity for NATO.

However, this presupposes a willingness to work with the Americans to think through what it means to use offensive means in a deterrent strategy to prevent the access to and use of weapons of mass destruction, and how this can best be done through defense and promotion measures linked by stability. It is important to restore a high degree of uncertainty in the risk calculation of potential peace breakers. It will be problematic to find solutions to the question of protecting Europe from ballistic missiles. In the end, it will be more technically difficult than financially or politically, especially if it is possible to find a way that allows Russia to cooperate.

Other questions, such as the future of NATO's nuclear strategy and the undoubtedly declining role of non-American nuclear forces, are rather minor issues for which solutions can be found, provided there is the political will to compromise. Bush's historic speech marks the beginning of a process that could end with more security for everyone, but not invulnerability for one. It is now important to participate without getting bogged down in wanting to change what the USA cannot do without. It also doesn't help to mourn obsolete contracts. Instead, everyone should use the opportunity to incorporate an emerging concept into new contracts.