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Leangkollen 11.-12.februar 2013

The Norwegian Atlantic Committee has written some summaries for those of you who were not able to attend the conference. Also, we have the sound files for Deputy Secretary General Mr. Alexander Vershbow and Mr. Gideon Rachman's speeches. Thank for to all of our participiants and contributors for making Leangkollen a success.

Opening session in the Nobel Institute

The Committee´s Chairman, Mr. Kjell Engebretsen, opened the 48th annual Security Conference entitled “Europe and NATO in times of financial restraint – Is the Trans-Atlantic bond breaking”. After his opening he introduced the Ministrer of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Espen Barth Eide. In his opening lecture the Minister emphasized that the world is changing and questioned what implications it will have for the Trans-Atlantic bound. Furthermore, Mr. Barth Eide underlined the importance of finding good platforms for doing more together, taking care of the coalition´s core values, and finally start talking about what kind of issues and threats NATO shall address, and which it shall not. Another issue he touched upon was the changes in the geopolitics of energy, which is an important issue for an energy country like Norway. You can read the speech by Mr. Espen Barth Eide here.  

The Minister was followed by Deputy Secretary General in NATO, Alexander Vershbow. He focused on the new geopolitical realities and that NATO has to adapt and transform to the changes. Furthermore, NATO shall preserve its core tasks, and find new ways to generate full capabilities. He ended by stressing the importance of a strong commitment and the value of solidarity, inclusiveness and transparency.

 Listen to the Deputy Secretary General’s speech here (mp3, appr. 15MB)

The last speaker at Nobel was Gideon Rachman, Commentator, Financial Times. He touched upon three principals. First, America´s potential active engagement outside Europe. Second, consequences of the financial crisis. Third, the rise of new powers and the subsequent shift in the balance of economic power. According to Rachman, the overall picture is as following: NATO does play a role, but we are looking at a period where NATOs initiation outside core areas is diminishing. At the moment the alliance is declining in its sufficiency.

 Listen to the Mr. Rachman’s speech here (mp3, appr. 15MB)

Session II Global governance: limits in tools, rules and money (Leangkollen)

The first panel at Leangkollen was chaired by Johannes Rø (IFS). In the panel we were delighted to have Michel Foucher (IHEDN), Julian Lindley-French (Europe Analytica), Gideon Rachman (Financial Times), and Øystein Tunsjø (IFS) who was kind enough to step in for Daniel Drezner (Tufts University), as his flight was cancelled due to bad weather conditions.

Michel Foucher´s overall picture was as following: nations are more important than coalitions, and interests are more important than values. He underlined the importance of geography, and that European nations should pay their attention to its own region. Furthermore, he argued for the establishment of an effectively shared strategic interest between EU member states and partners, like Norway, as we now face a lack of strategy and common political center in Europe. Foucher also made a point about the Libya intervention that the US was not "leading from behind", but rather "supporting from above".

Julian Lindley-French claimed that limitations in military forces will always be a fact. Therefore we need to embed and integrate force, resource and recourse to critical knowledge within a political strategic end. Furthermore, this has to be in conjunction with a political reconciliation strategy that has legitimacy from the very beginning. Soft power in the absence of hard power is no power, being essential in order to exert influence. However, force used wisely and appropriately, and mandated through an UN resolution, can be decisive according to Lindley-French.

Øystein Tunsjø focused on the global power shift by emphasizing two characteristics: First, the coming of a bipolar world - with China and the US as main actors. The power gap between the rest and China is growing, while the power gap between the US and China is limiting. Second, the Asia centric world, looking at the region´s growing economic and geopolitical power. In his concluding remarks, Tunsjø argued that Europe should preserve isolationism and pay attention to its own neighborhood. This will allow the US more effectively to rebalance, while European countries can focus on their challenges at home.

Session III Endgame Afghanistan

Our second panel was led by Janne Haaland Matlary (UiO). In this session we moved on to Afghanistan as an example of international operation. “Exit-Afghanistan” is approaching and we asked the panel what 12 years of international presence, working for stabilization and assistance has led to. The panel consisted of Yngve Odlo (Norwegian Army), Morten Henriksen (NATO), Tore Hattrem (MFA), and Torbjørn Knutsen (NTNU). The second day at Leangkollen was conducted under the Chatham House Rule, but here is a short brief of their main topics.   

Ynge Odlo talked about his experiences from Afghanistan as a former Chief of Staff RC North.  Odlo worked close with the national afghan army, and shared his thoughts about the prospects for the security in Afghanistan after “exit-Afghanistan” 2014.

Morten Henriksen is a policy officer and has been involved in the political-military aspects of NATO´s broader engagement in Afghanistan and its region. He talked about NATO´s engagement in Afghanistan, now and after security transition, and NATO´s specific ISAF role.

Tore Hattrem is former Ambassador to Afghanistan. From a macro perspective he focused on the status of current Afghanistan and prospects ahead, where he among other things touched upon NATO´s commitments from 2014. 

Torbjørn Knutsen is professor at NTNU and gave us the lessons learned for the Alliance from the point of view of a scholar. He drew us through a list of lessons learned analog to the mountain code, highlighting nine rules for intervention. 

 See professor Torbjørn Knutsen's Powerpoint presentation (ppt, appr. 2mb) 

Session IV 12 years of Stabilization and Assistance – to what end?

 The final session was conducted under the direction of Laila Bokhari. We had a distinguished panel consisting of Ine Marie Eriksen Søreide (chair of parliamentary committee on defense and foreign affairs), Carmela Conroy (US Embassy), Yama Wolasmal (journalist TV2), and Gunhild H. Gjørv (assistant professor, University in Tromsø).

Ine Marie Eriksen Søreide spoke about the so-called “Norwegian model”, its principles and effects. In a time of “exit-Afghanistan” and “lessons learned” she pointed out what limits and challenges the model has met as a comprehensive approach, particularly in the context of Civil and Military Cooperation (CIMIC).

Carmela Conroy has been refugee coordinator for Afghanistan. She shared her own picture from her stay, and gave us a more positive picture of what is actually achieved in Afghanistan these years.

Yama Wolasmal spoke about his impressions from Faryab as a journalist. Among other things he focused on the Norwegian model and what challenges it met in Faryab. As well he shared his opinions about the requirements for a long-term peace in Afghanistan.

Gunhild H. Gjørv talked under the quite interesting title “See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil: the lessons we will not learn”. Gjørv has been researching on Civil and Military Cooperation (CIMIC) in Afghanistan, which was her main topic at Leangkollen. She shared her opinions on how CIMIC has been practiced in the Norwegian Army, and what should be learned after 12 years in Afghanistan. As well she underlined which improvements and initiatives she wants to see on this field the next coming years.  

For a full biography of the speakers, please see the conference’s brochure. Also visit our Facebook page for more pictures from the conference.