Connect with us

Defense

Revolutionizing the military education

Published

on

War amongst people is not a better paradigm than interstate industrial war, it is simply different – and understanding difference, and accepting it, must become a central part of our away ahead. (SMITH, 2008, p. 374)

1. Introduction

The military post-modern era has brought, according to Moskos et al. (2000), new threats and challenges to the most relevant Armed Forces, mainly after the Cold War.

In the military, post-modernism refers to the new operational scenario framed by the Revolution in Military Affairs (MOSKOS, WILLIAMS, SEGAL, 2000), which is based upon technical and sociocultural changes that have been confronting military organizations today. Thus, amongst the main elements that characterize the Revolution in Military Affairs are the development and use of technical and technological means; interaction between civilians and military personnel; change of the missions from conventional combat operation to humanitarian missions with low intensity; multilateral actions under the auspices of international organisms; and internationalism of military forces. All these facts have been proving that the tendency of war has really changed, as General Rupert Smith has pointed out recently. (2008)

This study focuses on sociocultural changes required by this new operational context, emphasizing the role of education and training of military personnel in order to better benefit from technical and technological means. It also highlights that if influence of technology on tactics, operations, doctrine, planning, equipment and training of military formations is often to be considered dependant on financial possibilities, opportunity costs of developments and acquisitions; on the other hand, the impacts of technology on these issues are also dependent on investments in military education to develop and appropriately use technology and technical means to deploy in post-modern scenarios.

In developed countries, technological advances are based on educational systems that allow the transference of new studies and researches, products, information systems and knowledge into social, cultural, economical and scientific development. On the contrary, countries that choose not to face the challenges imposed by education are still under technological threat, dependency and decisions. China and India had chosen to invest in education and the positive results were already reported by the Central Intelligence Agency (2006), proving the relevance of such investment in either civil or military settings.

One possible way to provide educational opportunities for under-developing nations to face the challenges and fill in their educational gaps is to promote partnerships between civil and military Higher Educational Institutions (HEI). This initiative fosters the development of projects and stimulates each other towards implementing sociocultural and technological advances that serve civilian as well as military purposes.

In Brazilian army this initiative had been already taken, thus civil and military HEI have been working on academic projects which aim to bring up civilians to discuss National Defence and Security with military personnel through official partnerships already established between Brazilian Ministry of Defence and Ministry of Education (BRASIL, 2005).

To face this challenge, the Brazilian army Command and General Staff College has just created an Institute named Instituto Meira Mattos (IMM), which will gather civil and military academicians willing to taking a post-graduate course on National Defence, therefore promoting academic partnerships to enrich and strengthen the debates on National Defence and Security within Brazilian society.

Since the need to establish these partnerships is already implemented, it is time to think about theoretical and methodological educational policies and practices to underpin these initiatives. In this direction, the framework of multiculturalism (MCLAREN, 1997; 2000) in military educational settings should be considered to support post-modern environments in which soldiers operate today, mainly because as General James N. Mattis1 had noticed “we have to diminish the idea that technology is going to change warfare. [because] War is primarily a human endeavor.” (MATTIS apud BORUM, 2012, p. 35) Thus, human terrain and its sociocultural dimensions should be deeply considered in military educational arena to provide the development and better use of technical and technological means and their influence on tactics, operations and doctrine,

Curricular policies and practices as well as technology rely on cultural, political and conservative contexts, especially in military settings where decisions will directly influence on tactics, operations, doctrine and on individuals. Therefore, to convince high commanders of the need to implement sociocultural changes in military education has been a challenge for the organization to overcome, as pointed out in an interview I had with a Dutch soldier.

It has not always been easy to convince the military (from general to rank-and-file) of the need to include cultural training in the military curriculum. But after several military operations abroad (from 1992 onwards: Bosnia, Kosovo, Kampuchea, Ethiopia-Eritrea, Iraq and Afghanistan) the message is now well-understood. (2009)

Guided by the theoretical framework of multiculturalism (MCLAREN, 1997; 2000) and peace studies (GALTUNG, 1990), the present study emerged from my doctoral thesis (COSTA, 2009) and was guided by a qualitative research (DENZIN & LINCOLN, 2000) I had recently conducted.

This research relies on a case study developed at Brazilian Peacekeeping Operations Training Center (CI Op Paz), which was recently evolved into Peacekeeping Operations Joint Center (CCOPAB),2 proving that the nature and demands of the missions today have required more enlarged educational perspectives. To accomplish this research a documental and discursive analysis was done, mainly interviews held with soldiers who deployed in different peacekeeping missions as well as the speeches of the actors who are in charge of their training.

The study had proved it is a need to (re)think the extent to which Brazilian army is preparing their human resources to face the sociocultural challenges for deploying in post-modern scenarios (COSTA & CANEN, 2008), chiefly military personnel prepared at CCOPAB, due to the multidimensional and multicultural demands of peace missions today.

As a result, this study sought to guide decision makers towards solving the opposing tension between invention and innovation in military education and training, pointing out the most appropriate educational practices to support soldiers to deal with the sociocultural challenges and demands required by the Revolution in Military Affairs.

In fact, Lastro & Cassiolato (2003) had highlighted that “[…] more serious than not having access to new technologies and information is not to have enough knowledge to use them.” (p. 12). However, the research problem I carry out is that what if we have full access to knowledge and information, technologies and technical means, but do not deeply consider that

[…] understanding the human dimension of a conflict is critically important. There is much more to the human dimension than knowing an adversary’s culture. Even a deep grasp of culture and social dynamics is not sufficient to win a war (though a deficient understanding may be enough to lose one). (BORUM, R., 2011, p. 36, our marks)

In broader educational terms, I argue it is also a need to consider that the lack of access to new information and technology for underdeveloping countries would increase the actual inequalities between developed and emerging countries and contributes even more to separate these countries in terms of technology and information (AROCENA & SUTZ, 2003), chiefly now when instant, surgical and segregated wars have been considered a privilege of technologically and economically dominant nations. (CASTELLS, 1999)

In this direction, it is desirable to any national educational strategy seeking to minimizing social exclusion to promote education (either civil or military), towards providing opportunities to learn, select and use appropriately not only information but technology, as well as enlarging students’ perceptions on human sociocultural dimensions. The partnerships between civil and military Higher Educational Institutions that have been promoted by Brazilian Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Education is an example of a fruitful avenue that may lead to minimize educational gaps in terms of technology, advances and transference as well as in terms of developing the better competences to provide their use in new operational scenarios.

2. Multiculturalism: A Methodological and Theoretical Approach for Military Education  

As already mentioned, a qualitative research investigation directed our methodological path (DENZIN & LINCOLN, 2000), through the undertaking of a case study, which relies on interviews and documental analyses. Interviews were held with military personnel who had experienced being in peacekeeping operations to know their perceptions acting within multidimensional/multicultural scenarios as well as those in charge of their training. This strategy of inquiry is especially relevant to research in educational fields because it allows acknowledging actors’ and agents’ different perspectives and voices. On the other hand, documental analysis provides information to the extent to which a Brazilian military educational institution that prepares troops for peacekeeping operations has taken into account their sociocultural/multicultural needs, other than operational ones. This analysis has been undertaken so as to gauge how far the curriculum has been (or has not been) imbued with a multicultural direction.

That is arguably relevant due to the constant interaction of those troops with different nationalities, cultures, values and languages during military missions. As a result, it becomes important to draw special attention upon strategies and policies adopted to govern or manage the problems of culturally plural societies. In this case, educational strategies and policies for soldiers training to deploy in multicultural scenarios, aggravated by ethnical, religious, cultural conflicts and threats imposed upon those which are not technologically and economically dominant (CASTELLS, 1999).

This study was guided by McLaren’s perspective (2000) towards critical multiculturalism (more recently referred to as post-colonial/revolutionary multiculturalism or emancipatory multiculturalism), which promotes concern about the danger of cultural homogenization in educational policies and practices, seeking to explore curricular and evaluative strategies which challenge ethnocentrism and prejudices. This way, multiculturalism is understood as minorities’ responses to cultural homogenization.

The theoretical distinction between the terms multicultural and multiculturalism according to Hall (2000) is also considered in this study since it conceives that

[…] multi-cultural is used adjectivally. It describes the social characteristics and problems of governance posed by any society in which different cultural communities live together and attempt to build a common life while retaining something of their ‘original’ identity. By contrast, ‘multiculturalism’ is substantive. It references the strategies and policies adopted to govern or manage the problems of diversity and multiplicity which multi-cultural societies throw up. It is usually used in the singular, signifying the distinctive philosophy or doctrine which underpins multi-cultural strategies. ‘Multi-cultural,’ however, is by definition plural. (p. 209-210)

The multicultural approach adopted here underpins Castell’s interpretation of globalization which pinpoints that instead of developing efforts and results towards science and technology, globalization; on the contrary, has developed a national concentration of these activities which has been shared between those countries technologically advanced (CASTELL, 1999).

In this direction, education plays a special role, chiefly because as Castell (op. cit.) points out, we have witnessed the effects of globalization which has deeply increased sociocultural and economical differences amongst countries and regions in place of minimizing them. Lastros & Cassiolato (2003) also throw lights on the need to invest in education, since they pinpoint the role of innovation and its impact on technical, institutional and social dimensions as a survival and competitive organizational strategy. However, these authors highlight that the process of innovation requires knowledge and ability to learn, incorporate and use it.

At this point, I argue a Revolution in Military Education (our mark) is also required since the Revolution in Military Affairs has not deeply considered and highlighted it yet; otherwise, military organizations will run the risk of being dependant on financial possibilities and opportunity costs of developments and acquisitions as well as on the evaluation of the extent to which new or modern pedagogical practices are innovative or inventive to accomplish contemporary military training. Therefore, military specialization to develop and use technology and technical means should be nurtured as well as military pedagogical and curricular policies / practices to confront the challenges imposed by new contexts.

In this horizon, educational practices should be especially developed to offer military personnel opportunities to rehearse political and intellectual competences, which are considered to be the main challenges imposed upon education since the end of the XX Century. (LIBANEO, 2001)

Align with this context, the commander of Brazilian army’s general guidelines for 2011-2014 period (BRASIL, 2011), stressed the competences and skills expected from Brazilian soldiers, such as:

(…) to implement educational competences to contextualize the teaching in order to link knowledge and technologies to decisions and performances in a variety of situations (..) to create courses for civilians at the staff college (…) to enlarge the exchange with civil academia. (BRASIL, 2011, p. 19)

With the release of these guidelines together with Brazilian National Defense Policy (2005) and Brazilian National Defense Strategy (2008), key words such as integration of Brazilian army with the nation, interaction with civil academic community and interoperability between the Armed Forces have been discussed in military educational settings and some relevant initiatives have been taken to attend these needs.

As a result, the exchange between civil and military Higher Educational Institutions should be nurtured to integrate military schools and training centers, seeking to provide sociocultural competences and skills to better equip military formations in the 21st Century.

To prove this need some excerpts from a documental analysis of a military curriculum from Brazilian Peacekeeping Operations Joint Center and interviews held with military personnel directly involved with peacekeeping missions will be presented.

2.1. Brazilian Peacekeeping Operations Joint Center: multicultural oriented concerns in the subject plan

The Brazilian Peacekeeping Operations Joint Center develops different courses for military personnel. Within the limits of this article, the focus will be on the preparation of soldiers, mainly troops, staff officers and military observers. The first ones because they represent a group that is always in touch with local population in a tense and stressing context, allowing us to witness their cultural difficulties and opportunities that arose in those situations. The other groups were chosen due to the fact that the real ‘weapon’ they carry in peacekeeping missions is their ability to strategically manage, negotiate and otherwise nonviolently respond to conflicts.

Those groups of soldiers need preparation for dealing with the multicultural dimensions of their missions, with all associated implications, having arguably to particularly acquire multicultural competencies that allow them to manage conflicts in a peaceful perspective.

The study realized that the curriculum of the referred Center is mostly operational in essence.

It is operational. Not only operational, as I told you, the focus on combat operations was higher, straight on combat operations, because we realized the troop should be prepared to the worst situation. Now it has changed. We are aware that the situation may suddenly spoil the personnel have to have these tools […]. (interview held with the Head of the Doctrine Division of CCOPAB, 10 mar. 2008)

However, some parts of it do mention multicultural concerns. Below there are some excerpts of the curriculum that evidence some of the discourses presented in the documentation. In fact, the course has specific purposes, in which culturally oriented sensitivities emerge, such as:

describe the importance of cooperation and integration of components in a mission; understanding the relationships and roles of the different components; recognizing the consequences of inappropriate actions to the rules / standards of conduct; recognizing the importance of different cultural events in the peace operations; understanding the various cultural contexts; develop skills for working in multicultural environments; identify the principles of civil-military coordination; indicate the skills of communication and negotiation; identify how to develop the relationship with the press in the Missions of Peace; identify the impact that exists in their respective roles [men and women] to building peace; describe how to handle tense domestic situations amongst the team members in a multicultural and multinational environment; raise awareness of the situations that can happen when individuals from different cultural and political environments live for long periods together; explain the main concepts related to the multicultural environment; describe and explain the main concepts of loyalty and respect in the team’s place; use appropriate language according to various situations. (CCOPAB’s subject plan, 2009)

In order to develop the curriculum, the Department of Peace Keeping Operations (DPKO) provides Standard Generic Training Modules (SGTM)3 to all Centers in the world in charge of soldiers’ preparation to peace operations and these are the modules that have been presented during the course under study. Due to the limits of this article, we will focus only on the subject plan; however, in previous work (COSTA & CANEN, 2008) we had also analyzed the intentions expressed in the following ones, due to their intimate connection to our research theme: SGTM 5 (about the code of conduct), and SGTM 11 (about communication and negotiation). SGTM 5 deals with the “Attitudes and Behaviors of the United Nations Peacekeepers” and is further divided into the following sub-modules: 5A- ‘Code of Conduct, 5 B- ‘Cultural Awareness’, 5C- ‘Gender & Peacekeeping’ and 5D- ‘Child Protection’.

Some of the curriculum topics of those modules seem to be clearly underlied by multicultural perspectives more aligned to a folkloric approach, valuing cultural diversity, but silencing cultural conflicts and prejudices, as expected in more critical, post-colonial multicultural perspectives. (MCLAREN, 2000; HALL, 2003; 2004)

Indeed, as could be noted in the documentation, some of the objectives clearly point to a multicultural awareness, emphasizing the need to understand cultural diversity in order to act in culturally disparate situations which touches on a broad multicultural perspective (MCLAREN, 1997; HALL, 2003). However, it does not seem to explicitly incorporate the discussions and concepts related to multiculturalism embedded by tensions present in critical, post-colonial and post-modernized perspectives, drawing upon an understanding of identity as an historic, social and cultural construction in contrast to an intrinsic character to be revealed. (MCLAREN, 2000)

It seems to be clear from the above excerpts that issues such as communication and negotiation, understanding of different cultures and languages, as well as a perspective of empathy towards ‘the other’ are present, indicating multicultural sensibilities (CANEN & COSTA, 2007; CANEN & CANEN, 2011). However, a more explicit and concrete mention of multicultural would be likely to contribute to a better understanding and incorporation of these instructions, arguably enriching and strengthening the preparation of the military agents for peacekeeping missions as well as other operational missions.

By the above illustration, we can infer that the curriculum of CCOPAB has the potential for a multicultural training for soldiers; however, those excerpts seem to convey the idea that the curriculum touches on more abstract multicultural terms, even though at some points prejudices and discriminations are mentioned.

At least, at the level of intentions, the curriculum points out the importance of cultural issues in an era marked by the expansion and the complex nature of modern peace operations. It reminds its readers that peacekeepers represent the United Nations and their own countries; therefore, a positive or negative attitude will impact directly on the mission success.

2.2. Brazilian Peacekeeping Operations Joint Center (CCOPAB): multicultural potential and limits in soldiers’ perspectives

The importance of mediation in conflict resolution is strictly connected to a multicultural attitude towards those perceived as different, highlighting the straight imbrications of multiculturalism. Bearing that in mind, we have also analyzed how the curriculum of the CCOPAB has been mediated by those who were targeted by it. We have therefore tried to glean the sense made of that preparation by Brazilian military personnel who had experienced different peace missions, including the following ones: the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH); the United Nations Angola Verification Mission (UNAVEM III); and the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR), in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Interviews held with those subjects were instrumental in conveying their feelings, needs and challenges. It is important to note that the interviewees included soldiers, who carry out given orders, up to generals and commanding staff, in the political and strategic planning of the missions. For ethical reasons, their names were omitted in this narrative.

In the limits of the present paper, some of the answers provided by the interviewees should give a glimpse of their ideas concerning the extent to which they felt the curriculum of CCOPAB in the Brazilian Army helped them feel prepared to act in disparate cultural contexts. Initially, most of them seemed to believe in the natural “knack” of Brazilian military agents towards understanding cultural diversity and effectively dealing with it (COSTA & CANEN, 2008), regardless of multicultural education:

[…] Brazilian people have always been a little bit extroverted […] it’s not the characteristic of other people […] they are more serious people […], they are closed up […] This question of maintaining security is a positive aspect, but it is a bigger issue that includes Brazil as a whole […]. However, smaller actions such as social-civilian activities, contact with the people, day-by-day constant talking, helps to make them [the host country] feel Brazil as a friend country that is there [in Haiti] to help. (soldier 1, from MINUSTAH).

Others; however, felt the need to express their feelings as related to the curriculum of the Center in terms of the extent to which they felt some aspects could be worked out more intensely for a multicultural perspective:

I think it would have been interesting if we had worked with those concepts [of respect, for instance] right away in the course, independently of the peace mission […]. We should have known the reality [cultural one] we would have to face, and that really would have made things easier […]. If one can make this preparation [cultural one] […], it would be excellent. (soldier 1, from MINUSTAH)

As shown by the above excerpts, it seems that despite having developed their own strategies to deal with cultural differences, the military personnel interviewed have expressed their feelings about the relevancy of being adequately be prepared to act in operations where they are exposed to cultural plurality in their daily routines. The above data seem to point out that a more structured preparation could boost their efficiency in dealing with cultural plurality, and could represent an asset to the Brazilian Army curriculum development. Even though some of the topics the interviewees pointed as lacking in their preparation were present in the curriculum objectives, as briefly discussed in the previous section, it seems to be clear they were not highlighted in curriculum practices and mediations.

This seems to be understood by the subjects of the study, as plainly expressed in the following excerpts:

[…] to listen is very difficult […]. If everybody learns to listen, there won’t be struggles, but we, in general, do not know to listen […]. It’s country “a” wishing to impose itself on country “b”, country “c” imposing itself on country “d”, and so on […]. I think the idea that must underlie [our preparation] is exactly to accept the differences […]. (soldier 1, from MINUSTAH)

[…] I think the Army should develop a programme towards reinforcing this conception [respect and acceptance towards the different] […] not everybody has this experience of respecting another culture. In some ways, we could also integrate people’s cultural backgrounds to the scientific, more organized, more directed knowledge. If we adjust these two factors, we can improve our performance in order to have the soldiers doing it consciously rather than unconsciously. (soldier 8, from MINUSTAH)

Other testimonies of soldiers about the curriculum can be important at this point:

There is a 50 minute instruction. It is mainly theoretical: do like that, culture is this, it is that […]. There aren’t practical exercises […]. There should be someone from another culture who could be there for a programme […]. What happened was a 50 minute theoretical instruction about this [cultural issue] (soldier 1, from MINUTASH).

I think soldiers should have been advised on the following lines: you are going to a mission where there are problems which you will not solve as you are used to, but you will have to solve them, even by not really solving them […] (soldier 4 from MINUSTAH)

[…] I think we should have had a more complete study: we should have studied the culture of the country where we have to act, the culture of the political parties there, we should know deeply the history of the conflict, all regional problems […]. All that cultural part should have been known. (soldier 7, of UNAVEM III)

It would have been interesting […] to talk to the trainees exactly what they are bound to face, in terms of challenges and cultural aspects…surely there are many aspects that won’t be the same among the countries, but those pieces of information are important in order for us not to have a cultural shock. (soldier 5, from MINUSTAH)

We can also, in some way, join what the person has in his/her cultural background with knowledge. I mean scientific knowledge, more organized, more directed. If we adjust these two factors, we can improve this performance so the person does it consciously, not unconsciously. (soldier 1, from MINUSTAH)

As can be noted, even though the soldiers recognize the relevance of the techniques and the training received, they seem to wish that the curriculum should emphasize more the multicultural dimensions in a more concrete way. However, that seems to be on the way of improvement, as it was explained to me by the actual main mediator of the curriculum development in the referred Center, in a recent visit. In fact, the following excerpts should be useful in providing an illustration of that progress, in terms of curriculum development, as explained by its main mediating actor:

We have come to the conclusion that […] the soldier is not the only component: there also are the civilians, who are in the day-to-day peace keeping operation, who face the routines, the difficulty of the use of foreign language, and a lot of other things. […] So, during the training, we set up 04 (four) concurrent fiction case incidents in which we took civilian students from the International Relations Course of a University in Sao Paulo, as well as journalists from another one […]. In those simulated situations, when a soldier made a mistake, or took the wrong decision, got “shot” or “killed” the commander, the journalist was there to show the news, the international relations person to report and analyse, and, this way, all the wheel moved […]. The exercise became smart. That made a very big change and, from there, with other troops, we worked the same way […]. When you get the soldier to be the “actor”, even without wearing his uniform, if I put him/her in front of a colonel, he/she has never seen in his/her life, he/she will make a mistake…but together with journalists, he/she will become coerced to question, even because the profile of the journalist is completely different. (…). All of our exercise is in the street, is contextualized […]. I think our ability to interact, of having several players […], should be a competitive advantage of our own, as compared to some of other centers that prepare soldiers to peacekeeping missions […]. The evolution of the curriculum was done inasmuch as things started to become more structured. (interview held with the Head of the Education Division of CCOPAB, 10 mar. 2008)

Some areas, some professionals who are doing research in masters and doctorate courses are researching something that we are interested in (…). If this information get here to us tabulated, done […]. I consider it extremely relevant. […] Suddenly, we are also going to contribute to the study of an academician […] it will let him/her improves his/her research. (interview held with the Head of the Doctrine Division of CCOPAB, 10 mar. 2008)

If it were to include a subject for those who are going to such mission environment, it would be towards the cultural dimension of that country. It makes things much easier […] to emphasize on the cultural history of that country (…) a class, a class period, talking about cultural aspects of that country and giving tips that may be followed by those who are there in mission, to have a really better relationship performance, taking care of cultural aspects, as some training centers outside Brazil already do […] focusing on culture. Point out cultural awareness aspects. Provide a lecture on cultural aspects of the country [referring to the relationship of those in mission with the local population). (interview held with the Head of the Education Division of CCOPAB, 10 May 2012)

The above excerpts seem to point out to a much more integrated, cross-culturally informed curriculum practice, in line with many of the feelings previously expressed by the interviewees as related to the need to be culturally trained to face situations from different perspectives. Another excerpt from the above curriculum mediator also highlights the development of a more culturally informed approach to curriculum development, touching on other markers of identity, such as gender power relations, as can be noted in the following discourse:

Now sexual abuse, gender, and cultural awareness are discussed, towards a more humanitarian approach (…). Haiti has moved from peace enforcement, which had started with the United States, towards our action which has begun with peacekeeping, moving now towards peace-building. The big focus now is on the humanitarian support, how to live with these ‘guys’ […] hence the idea of the Center is to launch this course, the C3M – operation and civil-military coordination – because it is important that our soldiers begin to understand how to deal with the civilian and the humanitarian agencies.” (interview held with the Head of the Education Division of CCOPAB, 10 mar. 2008)

As depicted in the document analysis and interviews, it seems that albeit a concern with cultural issues and their implications for peace operations in the preparation of soldiers is present in the curriculum of the Brazilian Peacekeeping Operations Joint Center (undoubtedly a positive feature of the case study), there is still a need of a more structured, academic and systematic reflection. The fact that our last visits to that Center showed increased sensitivity to multicultural aspects is undoubtedly a very welcome and auspicious feature, the importance of having military agents adequately and competently prepared for acting in multicultural scenarios is a necessity yet.

As shown earlier, Brazilian Peacekeeping Operations Joint Center has been improving its curriculum in a multicultural sense, as briefly illustrated by the excerpts of two high level trainers earlier on in this paper. It seems to be much more aware of the relevance of multicultural issues in the preparation of military agents, which has contributed to the establishment of some partnerships between the referred Center and Higher Educational Institutions (HEI), in order to help with culturally-contextualized activities during pre-deployment. We consider that as a positive step and look forward to the strengthening of stronger partnerships that could take multiculturalism produced in the HEIs on board. That could surely help to promoting transformational educational practices both in military and civilian education contexts, towards a more multicultural and peaceful perspective.

3. Conclusion

The present study focused on sociocultural changes required to prepare soldiers to face the challenges imposed by the Revolution in Military Affairs, pointing out the role of education and training of military personnel in a multicultural approach in order to better benefit from the development of technical and technological means. The study aimed at emphasizing the need to invest in education to develop and appropriately use technology and technical means to deploy in post-modern scenarios.

Based on the collected data, it was noted it is necessary to provide educational opportunities for Brazilian military personnel to face the challenges imposed by the new operational environment. One possible alternative is to promote partnerships between civil and military Higher Educational Institutions (HEI), since it fosters the development of projects and stimulate each other towards implementing sociocultural and technological advances that serve civilian as well as military purposes. Another way evidenced through the interviews held with military personnel was the need to develop a systematized cultural training for depĺoyment of soldiers in multidimensional and multicultural scenarios.

In this direction, it was realized that a Revolution in Military Education (our mark) is already taking place, mainly within Brazilian Process of the Transformation of the Army (BRASIL, 2011), as the guidelines of Brazilian Army Commander had highlighted already. Therefore, it is the intention of this research to re-visit Brazilian Peacekeeping Operations Joint Center in the future. It is to figure out the extent to which its curriculum and the perception of the actors and agents directly involved with the preparation/training for peace missions have expanded towards a multicultural perspective in more engaged critical and post-colonial approaches. As a result, I intend to enlarge this research to operational environments, other than peacekeeping operations, mainly because as Sir Rupert Smith (2008) has highlighted “war amongst people is not a better paradigm than interstate industrial war, it is simply different – and understanding difference, and accepting it, must become a central part of our away ahead.” (p. 374)

Continue Reading
Comments

Defense

Japan’s Security Environment in Asia Pacific: A Tragic or Misery

Published

on

Authors: Mehtab Ali Bhatti and Kainat Akram*

The security threats can be to a great extent partitioned into two groups; traditional and non-traditional security threats. One’s focus would mainly be on the traditional security challenges of Japan. Tokyo deliberately perplexed the world. It emerged as non-western power but no one could expect about its dexterity, and it was serious trouble to Western and Asian powers because they were dependent on its impressive economy. Tokyo’s trade surpluses were, $44 billion in 1984, $56 billion in 1985 and $93 billion in 1986, which shows Japanese rulers’ strategies, growing technology, education system, and people’s countless struggle towards their homeland.[1]But during WWII, they lost their formidable economy as well as some of their major cities like Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Aftermath, Japan experienced a tremendous financial crisis like debt. Ironically, Japan is one of the biggest debtor countries with the highest debt to GDP ratio of 222.2% in the world[2], which is a major threat for Japanese people.

Currently, Japan’s security environment is getting significantly severer with the sensational move in the global force balance, the development of new threats, for example, psychological oppression and cyberattacks, and the serious security environment in the Asia-Pacific region. Such threats effectively cross-national borders. In the Asia Pacific region, regardless of the centralization of countries that have enormous scope military ability including atomic weapons states, regional collaboration structures on security are not adequately regulated. North Korea’s proceeded with the advancement of atomic weapons and ballistic rocket programs just as its provocative conduct is compromising for Tokyo. China’s headway of its military capacity without straightforwardness and its further exercises in the ocean and air space are a danger for Tokyo. In addition, move in the global force parity and fast advancement of mechanical development, multiplication of weapons of mass annihilation, and the rise of threats that cross national borders, remembering international psychological oppression and dangers for the ocean, space, and cyberspace are additionally unavoidable threats to Japan’s security. In addition, issues identified with “human security,”[3] including destitution and advancement difficulties, and developing dangers to the global economy.

In this fast-moving world and cut-throat political competition era, the political dynamics of Asia Pacific region is changing with changing strategic environment, due to the geo-strategic consolidation among different countries, the focus of the entire world is tilted towards China’s owing to rapid development in terms of economic, political and military means. The ongoing protracted South-China Sea conflict of China with many ASEAN countries who are claimant of the cited territory and aggressive posture of nuclear power North Korea has made the region more prone to conflicts as well as an arms race in the region has frayed nerves, further, escalated the tensions. In this tense environment, Japan has been facing a potential threat from the opposite bloc to its very sovereignty and territorial integrity.

According to Tokyo, following countries have posed an aggressive posture in the Asia-pacific, which is worrisome for Japan:

China

China-Japan Relations

In the Asia-Pacific region tensions are being seen worrisome as China is becoming more energetic about its claims over the South China Sea, its tactical and evident actions have spotted other surrounding countries and external interested countries like the United States. China and Japan both have flourished and innate abhorrence since 19th century and America is owing more hatred and tensions in the Asia-Pacific region.[4]It might be called upon that there is nothing invaluable in the East Asia-Pacific but historically it is all about pride and honor, and serious issue of Senkaku Island for Japan. And their tensions ousted from the first Sino Japanese war, then islands were given to Taiwan, and due to victory in WWII, these islands were recovered by China after surrendering of Japan. The aftermath of a new threat established from communist country China; US and Japan signed an agreement of San Francisco Peace Conference by allowing Japan to patrol in the island regions, and America provided types of equipment and economically supported Japan to counter rising power China in the Asia Pacific region and tensions rampantly encouraging until today.

In the 21st century, the ascent of Asia has drawn the consideration of the United States to concentrate particularly on the Asia-Pacific region. Because of its geostrategic significance and going to be an economic hub of the world, the development of Asia can be identified with the expanding economic exercises in which rising forces China, India, and Indonesia are assuming their crucial role. The major economic activities happen in the Asia Pacific, for instance, the main trade routes pass through the Asia Pacific, and the Indian Ocean where strait of malacca is a gateway to major economies like China, Japan, and South Korea. Particularly, in the Asia Pacific region, the US has its economic, strategic, and security interests. It includes the economic network all through the region, support of peace and soundness, and making sure about its allies particularly Japan and South Korea, and ensuring the claimants of the South China Sea to resolve their issues peacefully.

China’s Response towards American Pivot and Indo-Pacific Strategy

China’s rise as a great power in this changing dynamics of world politics does not lag behind and it is important to understand Sino-US relations in the purview of America’s past Asia Pivot strategy[5] and Trump’s Indo-pacific strategy.[6]There are multiple significant events by which it can be speculated that People’s Republic of China (PRC) is emerging as a great player, for instance, it has resisted western intervention three times in collaboration with Russia over the Syrian civil war in the Middle East; it also bring-up with the idea of making BRICS and establishing AIIB which is considered as the counterweight to America’s World Bank; through SCO, China has also influenced her role in the international politics; most significantly, it has come up with a ‘Belt and Road initiative’’ with CPEC which shows China’s soft power in the world. However, with this dynamic strategic architecture in the Asia Pacific, two contours are important – what made the US come up with a rebalancing strategy and how China responds to it.

According to official reports, China has responded to the Indo-Pacific policy of America in two levels. Firstly, Chinese authorities have firmly denounced this US expressed policy and that they are mindful that US diplomatic moves would bolster its allies regarding the sea and territorial debates with China. Secondly, Chinese non-official media has harshly castigated US rebalancing strategy towards Asia. Some view this strategy as Cold-war like containment of China which was based solely against China because China’s ascent is representing a possible danger to America’s authority and its allies. “China in countering Pivot’s response has come up with ‘Marching West’ strategy, which aims at focusing China’s diplomatic and economic relations with the Eurasian countries,” according to Aaron Jed Rabena.[7] She is also of the view that China’s ascent is representing a likely threat to America’s hegemony.

Moreover, China’s reaction to the Asia-Pivot policy in past and current procedure of Trump can be shown by means of diplomatic and economic activities, for example, Belt and Road activity, Asian framework venture bank and reinforcing respective relations. The OBOR activity of China will fill two needs. Right off the bat, it will merge China’s delicate power, and besides, enhance economic collaboration with in excess of 60 nations. The Chinese reaction and its military modernization have made a serious mix and unsafe circumstance to the US Indo-Pacific technique with pervasive interests in the Asia-Pacific region. In this universe of complex association, war is certifiably not an attainable choice. America will never do battle with China since China is the second the biggest exchanging accomplice of America. Additionally, the Chinese reaction to this US procedure has been delicate as is obvious from March West methodology, OBOR, and AIIB activities. These steps are the projection of Chinese Soft power response to Obama’s rebalancing and Trump’s Indo-pacific strategy towards Asia.

North Korea

Rivalry is not Old-fashioned

Korean Peninsula has been remained a play chess match for foreign powers like Japan, the US, Soviet Union, and China—in 1910 Korean Peninsula was occupied by the Japanese empire but after the demise of Japan in 1945 and WWII, Korean Peninsula was partitioned into two South and North. Whereas, the North was occupied by the Soviet Union and the South was occupied by the United States. In 1948, re-unification negotiations were failed and two governments were stimulated; the Socialist Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) in the North and the Capitalist Republic of Korea (RK) in the South. In addition, the Korean War occurred in 1950’s, initiated by North Korea for invasion and the ceasefire occurred but peace treaty was not endorsed.[8]

In the contemporary era, the security environment of North Korea is very complex and instrumental. North Korea has one of the world’s biggest regular military powers, which, joined with its rocket and atomic tests. North Korea spends almost a fourth of its total national output (GDP) on its military, as indicated by U.S. State Department gauges.[9] Its brinkmanship will keep on testing regional and international associations planned for protecting stability and security.

However, North Korea has remained a part of Communist bloc, where Russia and China have been the back supporters. In the realist paradigm, ‘enemy of an enemy is friend,’ likely in this case, Russia supports North Korea and the US supports South Korea economically, politically, and militarily. Therefore, in the North Korean nuclearization, the role of China and Russia is very evident. On the other hand, in the economic advancement of South Korea, the American role is not far-seeing as evident.

North Korean Nuclearization a Dwelling Threat for Japan

North Korea’s quest for atomic weapons is a sensible procedure given that the system’s greatest security probability from international intercession. Additionally, for the North Korean system, atomic weapons have three strategic capacities, and with everyone, the US is directly in the middle. After that, they fill in as impediments; also, an instrument of international strategy; and thirdly, they are an instrument of residential legislative issues. The atomic weapons have given influence and a negotiating concession diplomatically associating with all the more impressive and increasingly effective on-screen characters, similar to the US and its partner South Korea and Japan.

North Korea’s nuclear missile testing has raised tensions in the Asia-Pacific region and created a global threat. It is an imminent threat to Japan as an ally of the US. Since 2006 North Korea has conducted 6 nuclear ballistic missile tests and one of them flew over Japan in 2017.[10]Due to nuclear tests, 15 members have voted against North Korea to the Security Council with US-drafted resolution, and new sanctions of North Korea’s textile exports have been alleged. In the reaction, North Korea had shown the backing of veto powers like China and Russia and aggressively indicated to devastate the US, Japan, and South Korea.

According to South Korean President Moon, they were against nuclear weapons in their state and they had withdrawn their nuclear weapons in the 1990s, “Nuclear weapons could not prolong the peace in the region,” said Moon, “They have provided $8 million through the United Nations to North Korean citizens for women pregnancy and to aid the poor and infants.[11]In the words of war, North Korea called South Korea as “traitors and dogs” of America and “dancing tune” to Japan and alleged that the US has troops in South Korea to destroy the North and its Asia- Pacific allies. Because of nuclear capability and conflict of the 1950s, in which America and South Korea were allied and had an aim to force North Korea for peace treaty but it rejected. North Korea continued to develop a ballistic missile program (Hwasong-14 with the range of 10,000 and Hwasong-15 with the range of 13,000 KM) which has been an impendent threat to Japan, South Korea as well as America. By measuring, America has put North Korea at the top list of terrorism promoter and designed unravished sanctions on North Korea.

De-nuclearization Fiasco

Tokyo is currently carefully watching the process of dialogue moving toward a U.S.- North Korea exchange and is worried that dealings on denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula may reject Japan’s unsafe perspectives. A senior authority of the Japan Ministry of Defence concerning the highest point among Trump and Kim Jong-un of 2018 stated, “We ought not to have an idealistic view that North Korea will relinquish the atomic weapons which it has at long last obtained.”[12] Therefore, to adapt to the North Korea emergency, Abe regularly underscores the significance of the U.S.- Japan partnership. There is no uncertainty that security ties among Japan and the U.S. have fortified further under the Abe administration.

Other Global Threats to Japan

According to the realist school of thought in international relations, global world order is anarchic, and power centric; its effects are, no trust in Anarchy, constant competition for power, zero-sum game, and relative gains. Further two types, 1. Defensive realism (states are security maximizers and seek survival, status quo, and states are not inherently aggressive) and 2. Offensive realism (States are power maximizers, in the absence of complete hegemony states act offensively and use its power as any can i.e. the US invasion of Iraq 2003).

The rapid progress of technology and shift in the global power is a major threat for all states but Japan has regular emerging threats like in the Asia-Pacific region. The proliferation of conventional and unconventional weapons is increasing which indicates threats at large, besides this, global terrorism, maritime risks, and cyberspace are disparate challenges to Japan. Japan is actively seeking an active role of self-defence and peacekeeping and increasing its technology to combat in the Korean Peninsula and to counter China’s growing power in the Asia-Pacific as well as in the World. State sovereignty is absolute, particularly which showed Japan through its heavy Defence budget and its measures taken in the Senkaku island, recently fiscal defence budget in 2016-17 was nearly $42 billion.[13]It was a non-western state which defeated Russia and attacked the US and its economy was second largest in the world. No doubt, Japan is the most industrialized and thick technological country that emerged again after World War II.  

Concluding Remarks

The dynamics of the international geostrategic environment in which the world politics is transforming from unipolarity to multipolarity with China emerging as a great power due to its military modernization, advanced technology, and growing economy and commercial connectivity in the entire Asia, which is alarming for the US but regionally it is an irked threat for American allies particularly Japan and South Korea.

By witnessing China as emerging power, American Asia pivot/rebalancing strategy and Trump’s Indo-Pacific strategy towards Asia in order to counter the growing influence of China. America and its allies should not perceive Chinese rise in terms of military and economy as a threat to world peace and aggressor because PRC has always been peaceful in dealing the problems of the world and the norms of non-interference are prevailing but no compromise on territorial claims—have been immersed in the Chinese foreign policy.

The United States’ concern over denuclearization of North Korean nuclear assets is not acceptable to Kim’s regime due to the prestige and status quo of the state but has vague threats from the US forces in South Korea. Even after the President Trump’s summit with Kim Jong Un in 2018, the US ally Japan is claiming that North Korean regime poses a genuine and inescapable danger to their security regardless of bringing down of regional pressures following the summit.

China has reacted to America through the procedure of ‘Looking West and Marching West’. A few researchers are of the view that the opposition between two significant forces depicts another virus war, however, I differ that since China won’t utilize its military alternative, China wants to grow economically and it wants to have an influence on the world through soft power. In a nutshell, I would say that the US must integrate with China rather than to contain it and appreciate its emergence as a responsible stakeholder.

Nonetheless, Japan’s reaction should comprise of two distinct methodologies: the anticipation of decay and the improvement of its security environment the essential reaction will be the discouragement of heightening through the improvement of Japan’s safeguard capacity and the upgrade of the Japan-US collusion. It is additionally significant for Japan to acquire and fortify international comprehension and backing for its position through protection discretion remembering that for multilateral exchanges. International help can upgrade Japan’s situation in managing the difficulties, and yet, the effect would stay roundabout. Japan can’t depend on unrealistic reasoning and ought to investigate other options too.

* Kainat Akram did Bachelor of Arts from Government College University Faisalabad. She also did Masters in Science (M.Sc) in Gender and Women Studies from Allama Iqbal Open University, Islamabad.


[1] Robert C. Christopher, “Don`t Blame The Japanese,” The New York Times Magazine, Oct. 19, 1986 (https://www.nytimes.com/1986/10/19/magazine/don-t-blame-the-japanese.html), accessed on July 20, 2020.

[2]H. Plecher, “Japan: National debt from 2014 to 2024,” Statista, May 6, 2020 (https://www.statista.com/statistics/270121/national-debt-of-japan/), accessed on July 18, 2020.

[3] Catia Gregoratti, “Human Security,” Encyclopaedia Britannica, Dec. 14, 2018 (https://www.britannica.com/topic/human-security), accessed on July 20, 2020.

[4] Kerry Brown, “The Most Dangerous Problem in Asia: China-Japan Relations,” The Diplomat, Aug. 31, 2016 (https://thediplomat.com/2016/08/the-most-dangerous-problem-in-asia-china-japan-relations/), accessed on July 19, 2020.

[5] Matt Schiavenza, “What Exactly Does It Mean That the U.S. Is Pivoting to Asia?” The Atlantic, April 15, 2013 (https://www.theatlantic.com/china/archive/2013/04/what-exactly-does-it-mean-that-the-us-is-pivoting-to-asia/274936/), accessed on July 18, 2020.

[6] Sun Chenghao, “What is the prospect of the U.S. Indo- Pacific strategy?” News CGTN, Nov. 07, 2019 (https://news.cgtn.com/news/2019-11-07/What-is-the-prospect-of-the-U-S-Indo-Pacific-strategy–LqCA9M3YKA/index.html), accessed on July 18, 2020.

[7] Niklas Swanstrom and Par Nyren, “China’s March West: Pitfalls and Chalenges in Greater Central Asia,” Institute for Security & Development Policy, Jan. 10, 2017 (https://www.isdp.eu/publication/chinas-pitfalls-challenges-gca/), accessed on July 20, 2020.

[8] Liam Stack, “Korean War, a ‘Forgotten’ Conflict That Shaped the Modern World,” The New York Times, Jan. 02, 2018 (https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/01/world/asia/korean-war-history.html), accessed on July 21, 2020.

[9] Eleanor Albert, “North Korea’s Military Capabilities,” Council on Foreign Relations, Dec. 20, 2019(https://www.cfr.org/backgrounder/north-koreas-military-capabilities), accessed on July 17, 2020.

[10] David E. Sanger and Choe Sang-Han, “North Korean Nuclear Test Drawn U.S. Warning of ‘Massive Military Response,’ The New York Times, Sept. 02, 2017 (https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/03/world/asia/north-korea-tremor-possible-6th-nuclear-test.html), accessed on July 19, 2020.

[11] Choe Sang-Hun, “Kims Says He’d End North Korea Nuclear Pursuit for U.S. Truce,” The New York Times, April 29, 2018 (https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/29/world/asia/north-korea-trump-nuclear.html), accessed on July 20, 2020.

[12] Koji Sonoda, ”Japan’s Security Alliance Dilemma,” The Diplomat, March 24, 2018 (https://thediplomat.com/2018/03/japans-security-alliance-dilemma/), accessed on July 21, 2020.

[13] Japan-Defence Budget, Global Security.org, 2015 (https://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/japan/budget.htm), accessed on July 21, 2020.

Continue Reading

Defense

The Credibility of Deterrence is Indispensable

Adeela Ahmed

Published

on

In India and Pakistan’s Strategic affairs, the key challenge to Deterrence Stability is India’s inexorable strategic aims. That negates the fragile stable situation and thus motivated Pakistan to modernize its Strategic Doctrine into the Full Spectrum Deterrence (Credible Minimum Deterrence) and successfully counter Indian threats from all the domains. India’s move from No-First Use to War-fighting strategy (Indian Armed Forces Joint Doctrine-2017 and Indian Land Warfare Doctrine-2018) is a signal to accomplish its strategic ambitions for regional domination that resultantly destabilizes the strategic environment of South Asia. So, there is a need to evaluate which are the key factors that are undermining the ‘Credibility of Deterrence’ and that can deter India from taking hostile action against Pakistan. 

The ‘Credibility of Deterrence’ is a noteworthy component as Thomas Schelling, a leading advocate of nuclear deterrence, maintains that the maneuvering of ‘Credibility’ can influence another state’s behaviour not to take any hostile political, and military action. David Robertson, in the Dictionary of Modern Defence and Strategy, described that “Deterrence works with the capability, credibility and will”. Thus the Credibility of Deterrence is the crux of deterrence stability that works effectively with the ‘Capability and ‘Political Will’. 

It is virtually observed in the recent Pulwama Crises (2019) when Pakistan’s decision-makers ‘Political Will’ along with Pakistan Air Force’s (PAF) conventional capability enabled Pakistan to respond with a calculated approach against India military misadventure. Pakistan’s military and civil establishments have so far proved that India cannot influence Pakistan with its assertive and offensive policies; and that Pakistan has the will-power to deter Indian aggressive and its so-called surgical strikes. But the important point is that the threat of escalation remains eminent in Pulwama crises. 

The key reason behind such India military adventure is the ‘Political Will of India influenced by RSS philosophy that is contradictory with the obligation of deterrence stability. Therefore, a significant question arises that how the Credibility of deterrence can work in future affairs? It is hard to assess the Credibility of ‘political will’ rather than technical capability; the technical capability of a state can be analyzed however the political will can change with the leadership’s thought process. The political-will is reliant on the nature and a behavior of individuals and systems and in India’s case, Pakistan is dealing with the Ideology of Right-wing Extremism practiced by behind the Indian different political parties (BJP, Congress) India Foreign and Defence establishment. The fuel adds to fire when India gets discriminatory support of the US that gives them the political privilege to compel Pakistan. 

The statements of India high-officials expressed their ‘Will’ in 2019 Pulwama Crises. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi called Pakistan nuclear arsenal bluff and cleared that our weapons are not for Diwali and then talked about “Qatal Ki Rat”. He further stressed that “Pakistan used to threaten us; it used to say we have a nuclear bomb and we will press the button. I want to say we have double the nuclear capacity. I say (to Pakistan), do whatever you can.” Without realizing the consequences of nuclear war how can be a rational political leader can deliver such speeches. Hence, all these kinds of crude signals emanating from India are a threat to the Credibility of deterrence. Indian Home Minister in the Indian Parliament after the revocation of the Article 370 and 35A in Indian occupied Kashmir has said that the Pakistani part of Jammu and Kashmir is Indian Territory, and we will take it back even if we must sacrifice our lives. Such statements make political and diplomatic environment tensed under the nuclear umbrella and no room vacant for any crises prevention or management.

Along with that the Credibility of deterrence also depends on the fact of how much public opinion supports or opposes the use of nuclear weapons, how they respond in peace and wartime with regards to the employment of atomic weapons. It will influence the strategic thinking of the civil-military leadership. The more the public opinion not in favour of using nuclear weapons, the higher will be the Credibility of nuclear deterrence. But unfortunately, in India Pakistan crises, Indian public media messages, especially in the form of public statements, has remained very unpolished and immature. The trends on twitter and News Channels so-called “raged breaking news” issued without any understanding of the policy impact the stability of the entire region. Such patterns and trajectories on which Indian leadership is moving is a grave threat to regional security. 

Theoretically, the reason behind their irrationality can be i) – the lack of information on which they make irrational judgments, ii) – states fail to communicate threats effectively, iii) – any information gap which leads towards irrational behavior. Unfortunately, irrationality in India originates from their strategic culture. India is in the delusion that she is a regional power state and can influence their dominancy. The way Indian strategic thought is leading the region and altering the dynamics of the Credibility of deterrence is irreversible. The unstable strategic environment of South Asia under the enlightened leadership of India must sense the catastrophe of nuclear war beyond hegemonic ambitions. 

Continue Reading

Defense

China’s Effect: A Global NATO

Emil Avdaliani

Published

on

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg welcomes Zhang Ming, Ambassador of China to the European Union, 2019, photo via NATO Flickr CC

A shift is taking place in global military thinking. NATO, arguably the most successful military alliance in history, is slowly but steadily edging toward casting China as an outright military competitor. Previously, the collective West avoided involving NATO in the context of the rising China.

Much changed with the advent of Donald Trump. NATO has been undergoing a profound evolution in which it is recalibrating its priorities. We are gradually moving toward a more global NATO with interests that spread beyond its classical zone—Europe—and into the Indo-Pacific region.

Many would argue that the foundation for a global NATO was established long ago. Indeed, for more than a decade, the alliance has been operating in Afghanistan, where it led the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). NATO naval forces were among the first to fight off pirates via the OCEAN SHIELD operation along the east African coast in 2008.

Military training missions have been a common element of NATO involvement in the Middle East. The alliance also responds to terrorism, cyber-threats, and disinformation. Moreover, it enjoys special partnerships (consultative in nature) with Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Japan, and Mongolia.

However, China’s military and economic rise, ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), and growing appetite in the Indian and Pacific Oceans in the last decade have brought it into sharp opposition with the US. The latter now sees NATO playing a bigger role in Eurasian affairs, which means taking a tougher stance toward Beijing through the development of a new vision for its outdated Euro-Atlantic-centric model.

This evolution in thinking is reflected in statements by NATO officials. Last December, at the NATO summit, China was declared a concern in a document that said: “[W]e [NATO] recognize that China’s growing influence and international policies present both opportunities and challenges that we need to address together as an Alliance.”

The reasons for this shift are fundamental in nature. It has been argued that China’s official $260 billion defense budget could mask far greater purchasing power, potentially reaching up to 70% of the US defense budget. China’s military cooperation with Russia continues to grow and now covers Central Asia, the Mediterranean, the Persian Gulf, and even the Baltic Sea. Moreover, Beijing’s expanding supply of nuclear weapons can now reach Europe, which, in NATO’s thinking, requires a rethinking of its approach to the Asian giant.

More painful for the alliance is the realization that China has made significant inroads into the European defense market. Recently, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic announced his country’s purchase of six Chinese-built CH-92A combat drones (UCAVs). This will make the Serbian army the first European military to use Chinese combat drones. Economically, too, China’s rise in Europe is visible in its BRI-related cooperation with Italy, purchase of ports in Greece, extensive relations with Turkey, and establishment of the 17+1 mechanism, which involves Central and Eastern European states.

It can be argued that it is China that came to NATO and not the other way around. China could, indeed, serve as a driver for cohesion within the alliance, which over the past few years has seen internal strife among its member states. NATO was created to counter the Soviet Union on the European mainland, but it must now rise to the new “China reality.” It will have to change its geographical scope and methods of activities.

Though that shift in thinking is taking place within NATO, the alliance remains attached to its vision and wishes to avoid casting China as an outright military enemy. It leaves open the possibility for cooperation, as statements by NATO General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg attest. In recent interviews, Stoltenberg said, “[NATO] does not see China as the new enemy,” “This is not about moving NATO into the South China Sea,” and “It’s about taking into account that China is coming closer to us—in the Arctic, in Africa, investing heavily in our infrastructure in Europe, in cyberspace.”

China does not pose a direct military threat right now, and that is unlikely to change any time soon. But there is an inescapable geopolitical dimension in which China becomes more active in the Arctic, the African continent, and the Indo-Pacific region. In addition, Beijing is negotiating a mammoth trade and economic cooperation treaty with Tehran that will give China the ability to position itself in the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Sea—a major artery for its oil supplies. All of this will require greater coordination and cohesion within NATO.

Critical changes to elements of NATO’s vision could be forthcoming. As China’s power grows, there will be a greater need for the establishment of a NATO-China Council, similar to what the alliance has had with Russia since 1997.

Perhaps deeper engagement with its Pacific partners—Australia, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea, Japan, and Mongolia—will become a necessity. Even a permanent military presence could be negotiated.

Some elements of this future strategy are already here. Stoltenberg raised the need for the alliance to take on a greater political role in world affairs and even to help nations of the Indo-Pacific compete with China’s rise. “As we look to 2030, we need to work even more closely with like-minded countries like Australia, Japan, New Zealand, and [South] Korea to defend the global rules and institutions that have kept us safe for decades, to set norms and standards in space and cyberspace, on new technologies and global arms control,” Stoltenberg said.

We are witnessing a trend toward a more global NATO in which the alliance’s security agenda is no longer Europe- and North America-centric. This will take at least a decade. A shift in NATO’s vision will also mean that Moscow and its activities in Eurasia will be deemed to be at a lower level of threat.

NATO will have to move eastward. This does not necessarily mean stationing permanent military installations or personnel across Asia, but the alliance will have to pay more attention to Chinese activities. Doing so will draw it closer to Asia and the Indo-Pacific in particular.

Author’s note: first published at BESA Center

Continue Reading

Publications

Latest

Trending