Five former armed forces chiefs from the US, Britain, Germany, France and the Netherlands put this manifesto together calling for a reform of Nato and a new pact drawing the US, Nato and the European Union together in a "grand strategy" to tackle the challenges of an increasingly brutal world.
The five chiefs are listed as:
The US's top soldier under Bill Clinton and former Nato commander in Europe, Shalikashvili was born in Warsaw of Georgian parents and emigrated to the US at the height of Stalinism in 1952. He became the first immigrant to the US to rise to become a four-star general. He commanded Operation Provide Comfort in northern Iraq at the end of the first Gulf war, then became Saceur, Nato's supreme allied commander in Europe, before Clinton appointed him chairman of the joint chiefs in 1993, a position he held until his retirement in 1997.
Viewed as one of Germany's and Nato's top military strategists in the 90s, Naumann served as his country's armed forces commander from 1991 to 1996 when he became chairman of Nato's military committee. On his watch, Germany overcame its post-WWII taboo about combat operations, with the Luftwaffe taking to the skies for the first time since 1945 in the Nato air campaign against Serbia.
Field Marshal Peter Inge is one of Britain's top officers, serving as chief of the general staff in 1992-94, then chief of the defence staff in 1994-97. He also served on the Butler inquiry into Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction and British intelligence.
Henk van den Breemen
An accomplished organist who has played at Westminster Abbey, Van den Breemen is the former Dutch chief of staff.
A French admiral and former navy chief who was also chief of the French defence staff.
This has been presented to the Pentagon in Washington and to Nato's secretary general, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, over the past 10 days.
This is also likely to be discussed at a Nato summit in Bucharest in April.
The 150 page manifesto has statements such as "The risk of further [nuclear] proliferation is imminent and, with it, the danger that nuclear war fighting, albeit limited in scope, might become possible. The first use of nuclear weapons must remain in the quiver of escalation as the ultimate instrument to prevent the use of weapons of mass destruction."
They name the key threats to the west's values and way of life that the west is struggling to summon the will to protect as:
· Political fanaticism and religious fundamentalism.
· The "dark side" of globalisation, meaning international terrorism, organised crime and the spread of weapons of mass destruction.
· Climate change and energy security, entailing a contest for resources and potential "environmental" migration on a mass scale.
· The weakening of the nation state as well as of organisations such as the UN, Nato and the EU.
To prevail, the generals call for an overhaul of Nato decision-taking methods, a new "directorate" of US, European and Nato leaders to respond rapidly to crises, and an end to EU "obstruction" of and rivalry with Nato. Among the most radical changes demanded are:
· A shift from consensus decision-taking in Nato bodies to majority voting, meaning faster action through an end to national vetoes.
· The abolition of national caveats in Nato operations of the kind that plague the Afghan campaign.
· No role in decision-taking on Nato operations for alliance members who are not taking part in the operations.
· The use of force without UN security council authorisation when "immediate action is needed to protect large numbers of human beings".
The former Dutch chief of staff Van den Breemen say "Nato's credibility is at stake in Afghanistan"
The former German commander, Klaus Naumann, offers his attack on his own country's performance in Afghanistan by stating "The time has come for Germany to decide if it wants to be a reliable partner." By insisting on "special rules" for its forces in Afghanistan, the Merkel government in Berlin was contributing to "the dissolution of Nato".
He goes on to say "there is a big stick that we might have to use if there is no other option".
Ron Asmus, head of the German Marshall Fund thinktank in Brussels and a former senior US state department official, described the manifesto as "a wake-up call". He then goes further in saying "This report means that the core of the Nato establishment is saying we're in trouble, that the west is adrift and not facing up to the challenges."
If this were politicians saying these things or issuing such a report, I would call it a bit of bluster and empty threats because that is what politicians do, issue rhetoric, but the very fact that these were top military commanders and chiefs, turns this into a whole different ballgame and should be taken seriously.
Having the pre-emptive nuclear strike option available is nothing new here, it has been unstated policy since the cold war, but writing a 150 page manifesto, authored by such a distinguished group and allowing it to be leaked out, shows that it is not just an option held in reserve, but it is being actively discussed.
The fact that the US former commander was someone that served not under a "right wing neocon", but under Bill Clinton, is sure to raise some eyebrows around the blogosphere.
I guess "Political fanaticism and religious fundamentalism", isn't just a concern from the right as the left would like people to believe.
Hat tip to Outside The Beltway, World Security Network has the PDF of the report.
Possibly more to come as I go through the report.
It is called "Towards a Grand Strategy for an Uncertain World".