Posts by LarserikLundin:

    Globalization is irrevocable

    March 13th, 2015


    By Lars Erik Lundin.



    My vision for the OSCE in a 40-year perspective: focus on good governance and anticorruption. Globalisation is irrevocable.

    (OSCE Parliamentary seminar organised by the Swedish institute for International Affairs on behalf on the Swedish Parliament and the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly in view of the 40th anniversary of the Helsinki Final Act ).

    A political message that can constitute a carrying idea for the OSCE, beyond the current crisis, is to focus on human development with a much stronger political emphasis on the need for good governance and anticorruption in all three baskets of the OSCE  – in support of an irrevocable globalisation.

    The need for a cross-dimensional perspective on security in the OSCE context must be analysed over time. The world is not the same as in 1975.

    I will try to see this detached from my professional perspective as a Swedish and later EU diplomatic representative over many years, starting in the second half of 1983. I am now a proud member of the Swedish OSCE NGO network.

    And what I assume that we are talking about here is – in the end – the added value of the OSCE and in my intervention I will focus on the soft power of the OSCE concepts.

    The first approach, which was included in the name of the CSCE as a conference, was of course the combination of the two concepts of security and cooperation.

    These two notions were operationalized into three baskets relating to  security in the politico-military dimension, economic and environmental cooperation and, importantly, human rights and fundamental freedoms.

    The discourse at the time was initially one between states, focusing on central issues after the Second World War, notably security. It was widely assumed that this was primarily an Eastern interest relating to recognition of borders after the Second World War.

    But when the Helsinki Final act was published in its entirety in 20 million copies in Pravda and Izvestia in the summer of 1975 something happened. Attention turned not only in the United States and Western Europe but also in several countries members of the Warsaw Pact to a third concept beyond security and co-operation, freedom

    The Helsinki Final Act explicitly inspired future leaders such as Nobel Peace Prize laureate Lech Walesa to embark on the road to Gdansk already from 1976. In early January of the following year Vaclav Havel and 242 other brave people in Czechoslovakia signed Charta 77.

    In this process the soft power contribution of the CSCE commitments turned out to be historic. The worries that the CSCE process would conserve an unhealthy status quo, as discussed in the US congressional hearings at the time, turned out to be unwarranted.

    In fact the CSCE approach to security in reality preceded by decades the development of a comprehensive approach to security in other regional and global settings.

    It sparked not only intellectual interest but mobilised emotional intelligence in many parts of Europe.

    In contrast to the development on the NGO level, the interstate discourse grew more and more infected over the years throughout the Polish crisis culminating at the Madrid follow-up meeting in 1983. At that point very little was going on in terms of negotiations between East and West even on the nuclear level.

    The fact that consensus could be reached on organising here in Stockholm a conference on confidence and security building measures and disarmament (opened in January 1984 by the late Prime Minister Olof Palme) may be hard to understand from this perspective. Most people who had been engaged in the negotiations in and around Madrid were thoroughly pessimistic. But there were a few optimists in the West hoping to create more transparency through CSBMs provided that they were militarily significant and verifiable. This meant that East and West could agree on moving ahead in the first politico-military basket while maintaining fundamentally different interpretations of what should be agreed, with the Warsaw Pact focusing on non-first use of nuclear weapons. We all know what happened: on-site inspection of conventional military activities was agreed for the first time here in Stockholm.

    This mobilised political energy in the negotiations leading not only to large scale disarmament in Europe but also to a valuable code of conduct in the politico-military sphere focussing on the honour of the military profession.

    The notion that cooperation but also freedom, predictability and transparency are integral parts of the concept of security has of course been hard to accept for many political leaders both then and now.

    And in particular of course the introduction of the concept of democracy into the Paris Charter in 1990 has been very problematic. As a defensive measure the argument has been introduced that democracy is to be adapted to the local conditions at hand.

    Even more problematic for those who were not present at the CSCE historic events in Paris and in Moscow in 1990 is of course the notion expressed in the Moscow mechanism that human rights is not an issue of internal affairs of states.

    What we now see is a breakdown of many hard-fought and established processes in the framework of the OSCE, including arms control. The Astana Summit in 2010 achieved total reaffirmation of the OSCE body of commitments. But this fact is seldom referred to: the soft power of this reaffirmation has been very limited, to say the least.

    Serious violations of these commitments took place already weeks after the summit. And I need not dwell on what happened since.

    So we need again to reflect on what is the added value of the OSCE in conceptual terms? What conceptual soft power can be mobilised to promote security and co-operation in the Euro Atlantic and Eurasian space? It is clear that simple slogans will not help. Calls for cooperation through engagement are countered by calls for isolation. Calls for cooperative security are countered by calls for deterring aggression. The notion of a security community in the Euro Atlantic setting or in a Eurasian perspective has not, unfortunately, mobilised real political attention.

    Some would even argue that the OSCE needs to take a break beyond its monitoring role in the Ukraine until the current situation has been resolved.

    This would however assume that people in general do not seriously reflect on their increasingly difficult situation. Empirical evidence not only from the Arab Spring but also inside the OSCE area, both in the south and in the East, contradicts this assumption, already during the financial crisis.

    In order to analyse this issue there is a need to introduce two additional concepts into the equation. The first one is globalisation, which has accelerated enormously and irrevocably after the end of the Cultural Revolution in China and the rise of Asia. The high-level panel on the millennium development goals is clear about the global development. Since the 70s billions of people have been brought out of poverty. The condition of this evolution has to a large extent been education. An education in a globalising world means freedom to interact and freedom to move.

    But globalisation puts all societies under pressure to perform and subjects all countries increasingly to both new threats and opportunities. Good and bad flows are increasingly and organically interwoven, affecting countries previously rather isolated from the international community. And globalisation promotes urbanisation, which makes it difficult for many countries to feed their own populations. They need something to export and they need stable prices. They cannot count on such stability only on the basis of the export of raw materials as illustrated by the volatility of the oil price not only now but also at the end of the Cold War.

    The sad truth is of course that large segments of the populations in the OSCE region have not yet experienced significantly improved living conditions after the end of the Cold War, despite globalisation. In some countries of the OSCE region, including Russia, life expectancy is now lower than in China. And for the women who live longer than the men life is particularly troublesome adding on to the hardships relating to the combined effects of poverty and transnational threats, trafficking etc throughout their life.

    When at some point the attention of people in general turns away from the television set to the evermore-empty refrigerator they will ask why. We now know what they in many cases define as an overarching problem is lack of good governance and rampant corruption. To a certain extent this is not a manifestation of a clash of civilisations.

    Development did not follow automatically after the opening of the borders, symbolised by the fall of the Berlin Wall. The graphs showing human development in the OSCE space are very different comparing the evolution in countries such as Poland with the evolution in countries such as Ukraine.

    This has brought enormous disappointment to many, not least in the Eastern and Southern parts of the OSCE space. Something has been missing which has destabilised many societies, also inside the European Union namely good governance and the rule of law. What we have seen in the last decades in Europe is an increased unrest in large segments of underprivileged people as a response to mismanagement and corruption.

    So what then can the OSCE do in order to promote good governance and the rule of law in order to manage the process of globalisation inside and between societies?

    Good governance is not an issue of any one basket in the OSCE. As a discourse its has developed after the end of the Cold War. It has become a central part of the security discourse, notably security sector reform and the democratic control over armed Forces. In the second basket the need for investment protection and the rule of law for business has become a central problem not least in the context of the financial crisis. And in the third basket protection of journalists and freedom of the media, the security of the Internet, including the respect for the integrity of the individual and intellectual property are major issues related to good governance. And of course overall the respect for international law and for the body of commitments undertaken in the OSCE and reaffirmed as late as at the Astana Summit in 2010 is the fundamental issue.

    In my view therefore the search for a political message that can mobilise soft power needs to focus on human development and human security with a much stronger political emphasis on the need for good governance. In my view parliamentarians can play a crucial role to bring forward this message in combination with the message that globalisation is a irrevocable and is that to reduce freedom or to divert attention from these problems is not a viable solution.

    It is now crucial to avoid reversing the trend of globalisation and undo the work done by countless people in support of the CSCE/OSCE process over many decades.

    So globalisation requires good governance. And globalisation requires integration in all directions.

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    Globalization problems and solutions

    February 28th, 2015



    By Lars-Erik Lundin.


    To think slowly, to learn from history together as Europeans and Americans, to listen in both directions, to apply a comprehensive concept of security and again to engage with key security actors including Russia as you Americans engaged with China and other major security actors after 1972-73. This is what I would like to focus on today.

    50 years ago I graduated from American high school in Michigan. Lyndon Baines Johnson was elected president during that school year (and installed himself with the furniture in the picture now to be found in the replica Oval Office in the LBJ Presidential Library in Austin). 25 years remained of the Cold War. The Vietnam war started to escalate. It killed and wounded many of my schoolmates. The president resigned in 1968.

    Now we are 25 years since the end of the Cold War. What have we learned? Let’s face it: we had no idea what was coming.

    Let us first look briefly at the situation from the perspective of 1973. This was the year of the October War which I studied as a part of my dissertation in the 70s.

    As late as 1973 security-  according to a survey of Swedish security elites that I participated in – was military, bipolar, it was global and it was nuclear.

    But at that time security perceptions started to change.

    There was an energy crisis in 1973 linked to the October War.

    The US started to engage with China. Still countless Chinese would perish during the Cultural Revolution. But the United States still engaged with China.

    Moving to 1989, to the end of the Cold War:  Despite the focus on Star wars and the arms race I think we can now say that the end of the Cold War was not just due to military factors.

    The Soviet Union could not feed its more and more urbanised population. The oil price ,which had increased dramatically after the energy crisis, was going down drastically. The Soviet Union was in desperate need of international credits. Gorbachev agreed to the end of the Soviet Union and to the far-reaching commitments in the OSCE.

    The Paris Charter of the OSCE meant a further much broader security concept – but it would not end there.

    Globalisation had started in earnest with Japan, India, China, and at some point also with Russia.

    Globalisation also meant the emergence of nonstate actors.

    The security of individuals became more important both in terms of threats and opportunities.

    As regards threats we should have learned already from Vietnam that the willingness to take casualties is a very important element of power.

    But have we drawn the proper conclusions from that?

    Former  Defence Secretaries Gates and Panetta in their memoirs don’t seem to think so, at least not when discussing Iraq.

    We continue to pursue policies that do not come sufficiently consider the risk of radicalisation and recruitment of terrorists. And the notion that terrorism has little to do with organised crime and finance has proven totally wrong. In addition terrorists often have proven more proficient in using the Internet than those trying to fight terrorism. So again we see a further broadening of the security concept.

    10-15 years ago many thought that the US with appropriate coalitions of the willing could do it alone.

    After all, the first Iraqi war in the beginning of the 90s had proven the enormous military power of the United States in swift military campaigns.

    But what I saw when I came to visit the American ambassador in Baghdad in 2006 with my EU colleagues and also met with the Sunni vice president of Iraq  who later was condemned to death was a remarkable illustration of the limits of military power. The foundation for the success of ISIS may have been created during those years.

    The notion of a clear distinction between humanitarian assistance, independent journalism etc on the one hand and military action on the other started to disappear. Kidnappings for ransom, executions broadcasted live on social media started to threaten human interaction worldwide.

    Globalisation in terms of protection of critical infrastructure also forced us think more carefully – a discourse initiated under the Clinton years in the 90s.

    In many fragile countries local warlords build their business on conflict diamonds, oil, etc.. In many countries this had little to do with national liberation after colonialism.

    The result is often forced migration which is compounded by human trafficking. Some 20 million people around the world are trapped as of in the tech sex industry or in other types of forced labour. Many of them go to Europe.

    So again discussing positive and negative flows in many different dimensions ranging from energy to cyber to trade in general force us to develop a broader concept of security.

    – – – – –

    All of this should make us think.  So how does it look from a European perspective?

    In Europe most people are of course concerned both about security from the south and from the East.

    But we are also starting to be concerned about virtual security, about the security of money and information and ideas.

    We are concerned about global security not only as tourists and businessmen but notably when looking at piracy and interdiction of positive flows in general. For the Swedish customers it doesn’t really matter whether the ship is hijacked in the Malacca Straits or in European waters. We must realise that Europeans so far have not had to pay for the security of the high seas.

    Security is clearly militarily but not only military. Security is a necessary condition for development and development is a necessary condition for security. To get the bottom billion out of fragility and civil wars will be dependent to a large extent on soft power.

    We need to stop helping warlords and terrorists to develop enemy images of the West. Such enemy images makes it worthwhile for poor and destitute people to sacrifice their life in return for Paradise. And we need to stop giving people a reason to ask for revenge. This is not specifically something linked to Islam. Revenge is an honours code has existed in many countries including the United States and Europe.

    So in our military and non-military behaviour we need to try to avoid sparking endless vicious circles of revenge.
    This we should have learned already after the First World War. And here it was the Europeans who did not listen to president Wilson.

    – – – – –

    Basically, we need to engage with everyone. The OSCE process in Europe with a strong participation of the United States and Canada in the area from Vladivostok to Vancouver is built on the realisation that we all need to engage, and that no country is too small to be of importance for security.

    If you look at the protracted conflicts in  Georgia Nagorno-Karabakh or Moldova not to mention Chechnya, Kyrgyzstan etc you find that there are actually very few people involved. But the important thing is that those who are involved are willing to sacrifice their lives.

    So are we talking about the clash of civilisations in the spirit of Samuel Huntington? Well even this discourse may not be broad enough. Often what people protest against is corruption such as in Indonesia when I visited there with my EU colleagues after the terrorist attack in Bali in 2002 . We were told by the large moderate Moslem organisations in the country that they would be able to prevent radicalisation if the country had a proper rule of law system and justice. Disgust with corrupt political leaders led to violence recently in Bosnia and as we have seen in Ukraine and Georgia Moldova etc.

    And let’s not forget that trying to promote more rule of law after the chaos in the Russian Federation in the 90s also helped bring president Putin to power.

    Much of this actually does not have a simple link to ethnic conflict.

    All of this means that Europeans need to engage with Americans, that we need to listen more to each other as we tried to do at this conference. We need to listen in both directions and look for comprehensive, early and sustainable solutions.

    If we approach security from the perspective of smart power combining hard and soft we have to think slowly — quick solutions are perhaps not always a way to move ahead.

    – – – – –

    Many may ridicule the endless meetings not only on the level of the EU but also in the OSCE. But we come from a situation during the Cold War where many East Germans had never met or visited West Germany during the Cold War. Most people had no idea of the map of the Soviet Union. We had to start to go back to school and learn our history and geography lessons better.

    So foreign policy and not least security policy is as Lawrence Freedman writes in his recent book on strategy not just a question of rational decision-making but also of cognitive structures.  We need to carefully consider how people think.

    The EU and the OSCE as well as of course the UN system are very appropriate for slow thinking.

    We also have to remember that you are damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t. I know as a former EU official that it was fashionable not least on the part of my American colleagues to lament the slowness in implementation of EU programmes and projects. Well, later evaluations of such programs for instance in Northern Africa before the Arab Spring showed the wisdom in sometimes being slow. Lots of money has been wasted in many places around the world due to the tendency to close your eyes to corruption. Or even to tolerate corruption in order to keep the peace between different warlords and regional leaders in a fragile country

    – – – – –

    Finally looking to the east of Europe we are in a delicate situation as regards Russia. Through our restrictive policies, the low oil price and a general lack of willingness to engage with Russia I believe that much more leverage on Russia is exerted than many people understand.

    Russia might actually be thrown out of globalisation.

    The ambitions of the previous Russian president to modernise Russia may not be possible to realise. I have the feeling that many Americans and Europeans have not seen this coming.

    In this process we need to think carefully how to further use our leverage not to produce unwanted results. Most of us want Russia’s policies to change including as regards annexation of Crimea and aggression in eastern Ukraine.

    But we have a long-term interest to see Russia develop and be an integrated part in the global system.

    So we need to engage with Russia, which is increasingly difficult due to the reduction of policy dialogue with Russia worldwide starting with the G8.

    Intensive policy dialogue on all levels will be of fundamental importance to avoid going back to zero sum solutions.

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    The European Union’s response to the terrorist attacks in Paris

    January 21st, 2015



    By Lars-Erik Lundin.


    In the wake of the attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris in January 2015, the European Union (EU) and its member states face growing public calls to address internal and external threats, and particularly terrorism. The EU, through its High Representative, should promote political dialogue on comprehensive approaches to conflict and crisis prevention, which can deal with both the symptoms and the causes of these threats.


    Comprehensive approaches to counterterrorism

    Calls for targeted approaches and strategies have been made over the years following various types of threats and challenges, including conflict, genocide and nuclear catastrophes. While emphasis on the required action is somewhat different each time, the logic is the same: there should have been an effective preventive policy in place before the event occurred.

    After the terrorist attacks on the United States of 11 September 2001, the need to prevent the radicalization and recruitment of terrorists became apparent. Now, as then, the focus is on counterterrorism. The academic literature contains several critical reviews of the implementation of EU counterterrorism policies after the events of September 2001. One of the concerns expressed has been that the EU’s counterterrorism strategies have tended to become too unwieldy to implement. This is reported to have been a problem not least in terms of the very limited personnel resources set aside for coordination and implementation, including through the EU counterterrorism coordinator’s office.

    In parallel, following the attack on Charlie Hebdo, there is another debate underway on the role of EU member states. The argument takes as its point of departure that counterterrorism is primarily a member-state competence. So, according to that argument, terrorism should primarily be tackled by the member states internally in a highly classified setting, including through bilateral intelligence cooperation, notably with the USA.

    Indeed, many in the counterterrorism expert community have commended France in recent years for its effective containment of internal terrorist threats, which has been combined with a very restrictive policy on national minorities. Nevertheless, the events that occurred in Paris earlier this month suggest that more could have been done to improve internal coordination and dissemination of intelligence.

    This is essentially the same observation that was made in the USA after September 2001. As a result, the Patriot Act made it possible for different authorities to exchange sensitive data on a new level. In this context, it is noted that several of the culprits in Paris were known to the police and had been under surveillance as late as 2014.

    So, again, it is likely that issues relating to the exchange of data will be on the table, as was the case in the European Parliament with the controversial proposal to establish a passenger information network and exchange data with the USA. Bilateral initiatives, such as the recent commitment by the United Kingdom and the USA to look into outlawing certain types of encryption, are another case in point.


    Could the Paris attacks have been prevented?

    Would a policy allowing for more multicultural communities have led to a better situation? Sceptics counter that the EU and its member states cannot defend themselves against every possible individual terrorist attack. Heads of several intelligence agencies around Europe have publicly referred to this impossibility. Some also argue that terrorist attacks have to be dealt with in a proportionate way, including in the media, so as to avoid fuelling Europe’s far-right movements.

    The President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, has cautioned against precipitous action, which in his view might lead to mistakes. Nonetheless, a new European programme on the fight against terrorism is expected to be announced in the coming weeks. The programme is likely to be mainly situated in the context of the EU internal security strategy, first adopted in 2010, and to point towards action in the period 2015–20.

    There are several elements under discussion relating to the Schengen information system; the legal penal framework (cf. the arrest warrant proposal after September 2001); increasing cooperation between Europol and other European agencies including on intelligence; improving sharing of information with law enforcement bodies; reinforcing the information exchange on illegal firearms; improving the fight against financing of terrorism; and promoting cooperation on chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats.

    In a wider context, one can expect further attention to interlinked thematic challenges such as information wars and the internet; cybersecurity and critical infrastructure protection; forced migration and trafficking; organized crime and its links to terrorism, corruption and conflict; development and migration; and freedom and security. All of these challenges are also crucial in the context of counterterrorism.


    Preventing radicalization

    In 2014 the EU made a series of decisions leading to an update of its strategy on the radicalization and recruitment of terrorists. The strategy now includes references to a number of policy areas including combating inequalities and discrimination, promoting intercultural dialogue, strengthening education, promoting tolerance and mutual respect, and improving communication with civil society.

    The EU’s radicalization and recruitment strategy underlines the need for full respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms and stresses the need to pursue a balanced approach between security related measures and the need to tackle such factors that may create an environment conducive to radicalization and recruitment.

    The issue of preventing radicalization was also raised after the 2002 terrorist attacks in Bali, Indonesia. In that case, the issue related to strengthening the voice of the majority, which favours moderation and rejects recourse to violence. At the same time, as noted recently by EU High Representative Federica Mogherini, how can the links in the public debate between terrorism and Islam be disassociated?

    Efforts in the EU to strengthen strategic awareness on these issues have been made both on the level of the member states and in the EU institutions, including through upgrading the Radicalization Awareness Network (RAN) centre of excellence established in 2011. RAN now consists of a network of stakeholders representing over 700 organizations and around 1000 participants from all 28 EU member states.

    Importantly, Morocco and the Netherlands have put forward proposals on best practice in countering foreign fighters within the framework of the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF) under four headings: (a) radicalization to violent extremism; (b) recruitment and facilitation; (c) travel and fighting; and (d) return and reintegration.

    This brings the discussion to the level where it becomes most traumatic: how the international community has reacted after 9/11 through the War on Terrorism declared by George W Bush. Key members of the Bush and Obama administrations have also levelled strong criticism against that policy in Iraq and elsewhere. And the list of problematic countries is getting longer: Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, etc. A recent documentary has highlighted to the general public strong links between the way Sunnis have been treated in Iraq after 2003 and the rise of ISIS, further facilitated by international support to ISIS rebels in Syria.


    Promoting effective dialogue on the symptoms and causes of terrorism

    In the context of criticism of the EU’s response to terrorism, the dilemma is obvious: even if there is a need, as proposed by some, to make counterterrorism policies more targeted, preventive action has to be put into the geographic context of conflict management and peacebuilding. This means linking the counterterrorism discourse more clearly to issues of fragility and development, especially the widening inequality gap, and to the debate on an EU comprehensive approach to external conflicts and crises.

    It is high time to appoint a special representative to the High Representative and Vice President of the Commission who can help to develop a strong and balanced message on these issues in close liaison with key international actors. This would not be a counterterrorism coordinator, as this post already exists, but rather an interlocutor who can be deployed to intensify the political dialogue on how to prevent radicalization and recruitment in a broader context.

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