tv Wolfgang Ischinger World in Danger CSPAN January 18, 2021 8:30pm-9:31pm EST
at the age of 59 and author of 29 books that often focus on the relationships between black women in his last book is scheduled to be released in april. also in the news print book sales rose over a% in 2020 compared to the year prior. adult nonfiction sales were up close to 5% for the year and included the year's best selling book former president barack obama's memoir, a promised land in publishers weekly has announced that they will be hosting a new virtual publishing tradeshow from may 206 through the 28. the announcement comes one month after the cancellation of america's largest book industry trade fair, book expo. booktv will continue to bring you new programs and publishing news. you can watch all of our past programs anytime @booktv .org. >> hello, i'm walter russell reed, distinguished fellow here at the hudson institute and the global view columnist for the
wall street journal. today i had the pleasure of speaking with ambassador wolfgang ischinger about his new book woolard in danger, "world in danger", the future of the european union and transatlantic relations. ambassador ischinger going the german service in 1935 and served as deputy foreign minister and as director of policy planning and political director of the foreign ministry in the 1990s. he has been germany's ambassador to the united states and has well to the united kingdom. ambassador ischinger has been chairman of the munich security conference since 2008 and teaches at the school of government in berlin senior professor. he advises the private sector governments and international organizations on strategic issues and is published widely and in "world in danger" he identifies the current measures
in the world and the problems they pose for germany and the european union. he also predicts that european future which he hopes will be peaceful, prosperous, secure and influential ambassador ischinger's it is great to see you again to the hudson institute. thank you very much for agreeing to discuss your quite fascinating book with me this morning. the title of your book is a provocative one, especially coming from such a senior menu member of the german policy world but as you say the end of the cold war at the end of the cold war much of the west political leadership believed that the world was becoming a better and safer place and now you are writing about our dangerous but what has changed? what are the dangers? >> first of all, walter, thank you for having me. it is such a pleasure to meet with you if only virtually.
i wish i could traveled to washington and to new york to talk about my book and the future of transatlantic corporations now that we have had the elections in your country but you know, when i wrote the book and when we had to decide about the title this was, of course, smack in the middle of the trump years and, quite frankly, when we decided to call it. [speaking in native tongue] which translates into world in danger some people said isn't this a little over-the-top? isn't? isn't this too, you know,
catastrophic and is the world really in such bad shape? well, if i had a chance eight months or ten months ago to review the title i would have probably said world in great danger because we have seen at least in my view a falling apart of the kind of global and regional order the so-called liberal international order built on the idea of the rule of law and of promoting democracy. that kind of international order has tended to fall apart and we were onlookers rather helpless onlookers for the significant period of time. i would say that at this very moment at the beginning of december, 2020 the outlook is
beginning to be a little less grim because i think there are now wonderful great opportunities waiting to be seized but until recently until early november my view of the global situation and my view of the situation in and around europe was really quite grim. >> we will come back to the question of how president-elect biden's election may change things or what a new america leadership might do but i think it is, i think it will be helpful for an american audience to understand you know, the nature of the concerns that you had because it doesn't seem that when i listen to chancellor merkel and to defense minister or those of the european
commission, all are speaking in very new ways about germany's role in the world and the need for kind of a strategic rethink. it may be helpful for an american audience to understand just how the german perception of what the world and that tasks confronting german foreign policy had changed in the last few years and it is not all, as you know, about, but many other things that are at work here. >> well, let me start by going back to the moment of unification, reunification of germany which was almost exactly 30 years ago. in october of 1990 that historic event which brought peace to germany and unification of the two parts, that created the
situation in the minds of many million germans that now, you know, paradise is about to begin. the red army is going to leave. the red army, soviet army, did leave because the soviet union was beginning to disintegrate within a year or year and a half of the moment of unification. germans began to think that, you know, now things are fine and we can't just simply love the status quote. we don't have to worry about being a frontline state anymore with hundreds of thousands of soviet troops on the other side in the u.s. army and air force all over west germany hoping to defend and to deter risks of war and conflict in central europe.
now in 2014 at the munich security conference, which i had the privilege of organizing and chairing each year, the president of the republic of germany, at that name, gave a rather fundamental speech and said germany should now wake up and accept a larger responsibility for handling the future of europe and for participating in global affairs. that created quite a debate. the interesting thing was that this speech happened in february of 2014. and you know, what happened next was that the european security architecture as we believed it had existed since
the early 1990s and it disintegrated in a big crash of course in crimea and in eastern ukraine within months of the munich security conference bridge that was in 2014. then within a year or two you had in the united states the election of donald trump and no one in europe had thought that would be possible and the same year our british neighbors decided to walk away from the european union. i could continue with this list of unexpected security related things that have been happening for the last five or six years. in other words, we have had a really serious wake-up call and this is being or the narrative in germany is that when angela merkel came back from her first
discussion with donald trump in the white house in washington in the spring of 2017 she spoke out and said i guess we cannot, in the future, rely in the same way that we have relied for the last five decades, six decades on others protecting us and taking care of our security and i think we will have to handle a greater share of that ourselves. that was a simple sentence in a longer speech but it has created this awareness that the world is changing and that there is no law of nature that would make it an eternal guarantee that the united states of america was always been there to handle our problems in europe whether in
the balkans or ukraine or in syria or elsewhere whenever a political military problem arises, the u.s. would solve it for us. we need to understand that that is not -- there is no automatic guarantee. we should hope that the united states would continue to define itself as a power in europe and is a power presence in europe and actually engaged in europe but we do have to do more about our own our own security, our own future. i think that is what has bothered us and what has concerned us. this wake-up call came quite unexpectedly, especially for germans who thought, you know, we are now living in paradise and all our neighbors are now our friends and we are
surrounded by eu and nato partners in the soviet union is gone so why do we need to care which led to a significant decrease in the german military and in which has led to the fact that over the last decade or so that people have not really been interested in issues of military security and defense. all of a sudden we are finding out that if we don't participate in trying to manage security issues whether it is in smalley in africa or in syria or eastern ukraine these conflicts will have a tendency of coming our way. it could be through terrorist movements or migratory waves as we have experienced since 2015. hundreds of thousands, as you know, millions of migrants and refugees from afghanistan, from
syria, from libya coming across the mediterranean or via the balkans throughout and that has created a new sense of insecurity and the need to get our hands around these issues that we cannot always expect the united states to come and bail us out. >> this is, i mean, you're right. history keeps moving whether we feel we would like it to stop. but i have noticed that or maybe you can help me with this, it seems to me that the cds you group of political family has been the sort of most vocal about this and that some other parties may be taking it differently. are the stds and the greens part
of this strategic rethink or how are they processing this new world environment? >> you are absolutely right. of course, the left vastly represented in germany by the social democratic party and by the s pd and the left has had, if i may call it that a pacifist streak and a left wing that is not very hot about but is in nato and having american clear weapons on european et cetera and these or this wing of the social democratic party has not held the idea in high e steamed that it would be a great idea and necessary idea, in fact, for us to meet the famous 2% goal that nato decided to define six
years ago in 2014 spending 2% of gdp for defense so yeah, we have political forces, even within our current government coalition that are not really in favor of moving in this direction but there comes to a big butt. as you know we have elections coming up next september and the likelihood is that we will not end up with the exact same kind of government coalition. there are some likelihood that the next coalition government in germany would include the cdu, angela merkel's party because it has maintained its status as the single biggest political force in germany but the green party, the green party has risen over the years and is now de facto
number two in the hierarchy of political forces so there is some likelihood and i'm not trying to predict the outcome but there is at least a serious possibility that we might have the greens in the german government again. remember, we had the greens before and remember for sure in the greens in the days of the coso intervention in 99 overcame their recent demand against the use of military force and accepted the idea that yes, if we have to participate in trying to prevent the suicidal activity in kosovo then we don't like it but we probably have to so the greens even then accepted the idea that the use of military force and the special circumstances might be necessary
and agreed and the coalition at that time did not follow parts. the greens are now, you know, 20 years later there is a new generation coming up and the greens are trying again to present themselves as a respectable, not as a far left or only committed to green issues kind of policy but as a serious political force and i have heard leaders of the green party speak out about the need to support nato and i've heard members of the green party speak out about supporting a bigger defense budget even in that is not going to go down very well with all the winds of the green party but simply to say that things are changing even in the german landscape, the german
political landscape where, for obviously, historical and political reasons the military has not enjoyed the kind of centrality that it might have enjoyed or might still be enjoying in your country or even in france or in the united kingdom. things have changed so i am not without some degree of optimism that the next german coalition will, in fact, follow this advice issued or expressed six years ago. germany needs to take more responsibility. germany needs to accept a kind of code leadership role even on such painful issues as war and peace issues, conflict resolution issues together with france and together with other powers in the european union.
>> yes, i know one of the reasons you wrote the book was to try to communicate this new strategic vision to a broader public audience in germany so how -- what is the response to the book ben and do you think german public opinion, which i think is behind the lead opinion a bit in this new thinking, how is that moving and what are the prospects? >> i think or i would not overrate the relevance of my book or either publications. i would not want to overrate the importance of this but the lack of a strategic debate which was apparent which was as a bull in
german political culture we did not have a meaningful strategic debate in the way that you have among the many think tanks and institutions and government agencies in washington or in new york. that has started to change also. the german government accepted the fact that we needed to encourage think tanks to be developed and to be funded in the german government and even put some money aside to support a number of think tank activities in the area of security and defense. for example, speaking of myself as you mentioned at the beginning i'm part-time teaching as a senior professor at a graduate school in berlin and it would not have been possible
walter, ten years ago, to have a graduate seminar in downtown berlin on the question of what use, how to think about nuclear weapons in europe as part of our defensive and deterrent arrangement. ten years ago you would've had a bunch of left-wing demonstrators outside your seminar room and they would probably have made it impossible for you to conduct your seminar. my seminar where we discussed these types of issues has not been disturbed. even in berlin where berlin is not known as a conservative city, even in berlin things have started to change and i'm not trying to suggest that we are now that we are now free of problems. no, on the contrary.
this is still an uphill battle but the point i am trying to make is because some politicians have started to talk about security and because a number of books have been published in because television debates have started to focus on the question of how are we supposed to protect, not only our own borders but our partners, whether they are in eastern europe and some of them are terribly afraid of possible aggressive behavior, as you know. how are we to deal with the blood he conflicts in our immediate neighborhood whether in libya or yemen or syria and the ongoing conflict? how can we as a major economic power in europe contribute to a
fruition and how can we help restore some kind of negotiation on the iranian nuclear program, for example? this is important. it's important to israel and the united states and very important to us. my own country is in nonnuclear country. we don't like new nuclear powers to pop up whether it is in europe, and southeast asia or elsewhere in the world. >> one of the things i think both fascinates and perplexes americans when they look at european strategic discussions is the franco german relationship and we simply do not understand where you agree and where you disagree. in some ways it seems as if germany is calling for more strategic autonomy in europe and certainly france has been
calling for this at least since the time of charles de gaulle. in some ways the views are closer than before and yet it also seems that some very significant differences remain. how would you explain to a bunch of us poor, perplexed americans that what is this debate and how should we understand it? >> it is a very interesting debate. it's a very interesting debate. it is more a debate about concepts and words than about substance. let me be clear, in germany mainstream and came, i mean, mainstream government, thinking is we need nato. we cannot guarantee our own survival. we cannot arrange to be, to be
safe from extortion, from military pressures and we as a nonnuclear country if we do not have a nuclear reassurance program offered through nato by the united states. for us this is a sheer necessity. at the same time we believe that in order to become a more meaningful partner for the united states we need, in fact, to build up our capabilities to act and it really doesn't matter whether you speak of european sovereignty or european strategic autonomy, the idea, the german idea is let's build up our own capabilities to act militarily when that becomes
necessary and that will make for us a more meaningful, a more respected partner of the united states. our french neighbors actually mostly the same thing but with a slight french touch and what you know i mean when i say this current discussion with emmanuel macron on one hand and german leaders on our defense minister it reminds me a little bit of the kinds of discussions we had in the 1960s between charles de gaulle and conrad where charles de gaulle says do we need to use the americans and do we really need the military did gratian and nato and maybe we don't. it regarded yourself more autonomous and still is and we
aren't so there is a difference in how we approach it but as a matter of fact in the real world we want the same thing and we want a more capable european union effort and we want to be able to provide a larger contribution through the eu or directly to nato within the nato organization. i would not attach a significant strategic report to this current and the same story that of french views versus urban views from the 1960s to the present and some things in history don't change so quickly and it's really quite interesting. >> i can't remember if it is winston churchill or con world
who said the heaviest cross i have to bear is the cross of lorraine. [laughter] that was actually conrad who or no i'm sorry, it was hellman corr who said and i remember because one time he said it in my presence so it is a smart idea to bow your head twice in front of the. [speaking in native tongue] in other words pain special tribute to the france and i thought that was a smart move. he meant it seriously when you consider the history of germany and france and the wars that have been fought over since, you know, 1870s up through the end of world war ii that it is
probably a good idea to be extremely respectful of france if you come from germany. i think that has created a very trustful relationship and i hope yesterday former president of france passed away at age i think 94 or so. those of us who are of the older generation will remember how him as the president of france and helmand schmidt is a chancellor of germany in the late 1970s and early 1980s worked together to the benefit of a more capable european union and they work together to and they were instrumental in creating the g5, g6, g7 arrangements together with president ford and others and there was bold
leadership at the time with germany and france. also on currency issues and on economic issues and when i consider the passing of [inaudible] i would say my wish would be that we would see over the coming time after the german elections and of course, macro is up for reelection one year later i would hope that we would see the reemergence of bold franco german leadership. ...
the other is it possible we should figure out how to do less in the middle east. you can talk from people from the far left to the far right and you tend to hear that consensus obviously about how to do it in priorities and so on and so forth, but both of those pose interesting questions for europeans because it does involve a further shift of the american center of gravity of the foreign policy from the atlantic to the indo pacific. but also given the state of the middle east, any sign of an america that was trying to reduce its responsibilities or activities in the middle east leaves and enormous vacuum. in the 19th century europe might
have said an opportunity we can expand our influence and gain power. now i think the feeling is my gosh, what a terrible burden. this is a problem. what does europe do with the middle east in your thinking, what is the approach if they are in fact i wouldn't say stepping out completely, but stepping out a bit? >> i would say it is not in the interest of the european union that the united states withdraws more than has already been the case from the middle east. i don't think that we would be in a position to try to replace the role which the united states
has played for the last half-century in the middle east and the first signs of withdrawal from the region by the obama years remember the red lines in the sand of syria et cetera, et cetera in my view that has led to a kind of series of shock waves among the rulers of the middle east and as you pointed out correctly in international diplomacy and there wouldn't be a vacuum for a long time. others would try to fill the void and we have seen russia has taken advantage of the opportunity of establishing
themselves, reestablishing themselves if you wish, as a major presence in some part of the region. china is increasing in its influence. are we capable of playing a role in the region i don't think even as an optimist i don't think so, so it would be definitely in the interest of europe to have the united states continue to be present in the middle east and play a significant role. creating this atmosphere of negotiation about the iranian nuclear ambition if the united states were not a very active.
i would urge the united states not to walk away from the middle east. the other issue, which you mentioned, is of course the indo pacific is china and in my view that is going to be the single biggest challenge for the transatlantic community not just in the months but in the years to come. my understanding, tell me if i'm wrong, my understanding is there is a significant bipartisan agreement that's more confrontational adopted by the trump administration.
even joe biden as i recall said during the campaign i will be tough on china. if that's the american approach to china, the european approach at this moment is not quite there. we have seen a significant change in the way we think about china and we tended to think of it as a place we could export a huge number of pows and volkswagens and that tended to be the end of the strategic thought. that has changed fortunately. we are adopting papers in the eu about china as a systemic rival not only as a partner but a systemic rival so there is a
change in language and understanding but i think that most continue to believe that it should be possible on the basis of such principles as reciprocity, to create a level playing field for trade and work on climate et cetera. we are not quite where the united states is in terms of a more robust confrontation and i think the big challenges ahead for the community is going to create a mechanism that would allow the united states and european partners to have a very intense ongoing process on how to coordinate on china and i'm
sure that if we do this right, we will find a significant number of areas where actually we look at things in the same way. whether it's human rights or hong kong or the territorial claims in the south china sea, et cetera. so i can see significant opportunities. but defining what that means and what our toolbox should be in terms of dealing with china including the sanctions question, for example, there will be significant changes between the european and american views. so i think this is going to be a really long term serious diplomatic challenge to the leaders on both sides of the atlantic in a group that i shared a few months ago together with the journal.
we proposed that the commission should be set up to handle this problem and we said why not do it for the level for the vice president of the united states not just the secretary of state or defense but the role that would include all aspects of government to government relations and on the european side, maybe the president or vice president of the european union commissioned along with very senior representatives of those major countries that have important stakes in dealing with china such as dealing with trade as you know we have a very significant stake in keeping the relationship on an even keel. >> that's very interesting. one thing that definitely comes
to my mind is i would think some countries in asia would like to be represented in that commission as well, japan, australia, even india. anything that sounds like a china governance mechanism for which they are excluded sets up problems that then become bilateral relations between the u.s. and those countries. >> i think that this needs to be such an effort that is led by the united states for one very simple reason. we, the european union, are not seen as a significant player by our partners in asia and, i mean, in terms of strategic
assessment and action. we will be capable of sending a warship through the asia pacific waters, but we don't have in the way the united states does a military force in asia. we don't have the treaty commitments or arrangements clearly we could only at best play a complementary role, but i think that the effort to organize the western approach on china, the coordinated approach needs american leadership and
then i'm sure countries like australia and maybe even india and singapore and others would indeed be happy to participate. >> that's a very interesting idea that the u.s. would be trying to convene a group of that kind. your analysis of the prospect for relations with russia seem quite pessimistic. has anything happened to change that assessment is there doesn't seem to be a reset in the new administration in the u.s. or a change in russia's approach to europe. that was the impression that i had in the book.
to the arms-control discussions, i think that is overdue. i find it regrettable that the trump administration has not been able to agree with russia for example to extend the so-called new s.t.a.r.t. treaty. i think this is in everybody's interest. so, let's assume the biden administration is capable of working to extend the treaty and may be provisionally in the beginning and then add some other arms-control questions to that. that would at least open a possible channel of communication of important areas of security and security
cooperation let me put it very bluntly. it takes two to tango. from the german point of view we have always said that we don't want to see a development of our relationship with russia that is antagonistic. we actually want to express a kind of debt of gratitude that we have with the former soviet union when it agreed to the unification of the country in 89 and you know, on the third of
october of 1990 at the ceremony, celebrating the german unity, the president of germany at the time gave what i thought was a very thoughtful speech and one paragraph of the speech was devoted to the soviet union that still existed. he said now that the wall dividing the two parts of berlin, now that dividing the two parts of germany, now that it has divided europe it's about to disappear it must be our responsibility to make sure that there will not be a new dividing wall built a thousand kilometers to the east speaking of course of the western border of russia.
unfortunately i have to say that is exactly what happened and it's not in my view at least our fault. it's a consequence of actions taken by the russian government, whether it was 2008 military conflict with georgia for the 2014 events in ukraine during the annexation of crimea et cetera. but our sense in berlin, we should try to signal to russia that our door is open. if russia at some point in the future recognizes again that its western borders are the safest borders it has because not one
has any aggressive thoughts about russia we are not going to attack russia. we are going to be available as technology providers and technology partners to russia. so i hope at some point in the future, the russian leadership would realize again that there is a lot to be said in favor of a more or less confrontational relationship with western europe but again, we have seen very little willingness by the russian government in recent years to tango with us my practice is we need strategic
patience. you need to wait for the right moment to come and i'm sure that it will come at some point. we just have to keep our door open but at the same time do everything in order to make sure that we cannot and that no one will think that we would be vulnerable to extortion or military pressure. that is why, to return to my earlier point, that is why we definitely need the continued, strong nato relationship and i think that no one understands this better than the former senator joe biden who wrote a message when the conference
celebrated its 50th anniversary five years ago and in this message. it was still called -- it had a different name then, so what this means is your future president participated in this international security conference 40 years ago and i cannot think of a single leader, western or nonwestern leader in 2021 who could claim that he's he isbeen around in internationl diplomacy for 40 years. the only person who could claim that is queen elizabeth but she
is not an executive president, so joe biden i think at least from our point of view brings to the presidency a very deep understanding and knowledge of the evolution of the transatlantic relationship and the reason why we think we need nato and many in the united states believe nato is good and in the interest of the united states. i'm not the only one that is hopeful there will be a number of low hanging fruit which the united states and her european allies can pick in the coming months and returned to the retue the accord, for example, at least offering to enter into a discussion with the iranians. that would be another one.
starting arms-control discussions with the russians et cetera. there's enormous opportunities waiting to be seized and the couple will coming months. >> that reflects the thinking here also that early on in the new administration there would be an effort to harvest some of that low hanging fruit. one problem that i do see what sort of u.s. european relationships and maybe it is a larger problem is when european countries meet and the prime ministers sign agreements, those are seen to have a kind of illegal force that intergovernmental agreements are binding on successors and so on. in the u.s. constitutional
system, there really is no way that a president can unilaterally legally find the united states to anything really and only the treaty ratification process can require the successors to follow that. so, we saw in the climate accord what that could mean when you have presidents with different points of view succeeding each other. how does one from the standpoint of the american partners who must now go into any negotiation in the biden administration or any american president a sort of renewed sense of the fragility of these agreements, how does that work in the international context? >> you put your finger on what i
think is a painful point. let me speak very bluntly about it for half a century. we could consider the partnership of the united states, the presence of the united states politically and militarily as a very important leader and the agreement is an agreement and it will be respected the fact that president trump was able to walk away from the jc poa, he was able to say no to the paris climate deal has changed the way europeans think about the reliability of the united
states. there is this worry among some really serious thinkers who say let's assume we have a honeymoon now for the next two or three or four years with president biden and his team. but what if four years from now, 50,000 voters in arizona or 20,000 in georgia would turn the united states the other way, creating potentially huge security, political, military and other issues for the relationship and for our own security. in other words, at one that put it bluntly he said do we want to make our security dependent on what a bunch of voters in some parts of the united states may
wish to say or do four years from now? there is now a reliability problem that was not there before trump and i think that this is going to be one of the challenges for president biden and his team to explain that the united states is in fact a reliable partner. how can this be demonstrated. i'm very aware given the polarization in american politics to get the senate to agree to the major international agreements but of course it would be highly desirable and from a european point of view i don't want to sound political. i want to stay away from an american electoral politics of course, but from the point of
view of the u.s. reliability as an international actor it would be very, very welcome if the senate, if the one institution in the congress that has to say yes to a treaty in order to make it stick, it would be great if the senate had a majority to the executive branch of the government. the fact that we have not had that recently has been a burden on the reliability and the credibility of the united states. but i understand the constitutional ramifications and i guess we have to live with it. i cannot think of a better
person than the president elect to explain to walk around european capitals with a confidence building measure. he himself i think will be looked at as somebody we can trust. that is interesting and i want to thank you for the conversation that was i won't say it was as interesting in the book for example we didn't get to the equestrian based personal relationship with queen elizabeth and some other things that i think would make people quite interested in the book. >> and my invitation in 2005.
i had no idea that i was being invited by a person that was going to be a decade later the president of the united states. so sometimes it is a funny opportunity. >> the president elect has taken your advice about getting a dog. all over him it hasn't worked out quite as well yet as it has for you. >> exactly. anyway, it is a great pleasure and honor to have this conversation with you. thank you for your time and for the work that you do. let me just express the wish that hopefully soon, in the next year we will have opportunities again to meet in person and not
only by the telephone or our laptops. you can do a lot on these virtual systems, but you know, the fundamental business of trust building which is the essence of diplomacy and international relations at some point also requires this. it's difficult to achieve these only by a virtual means. so i hope next year will be better than 2020. >> so do i. and i have to say so far it is looking good. thank you very much and i hope to see you before long.
>> up next on booktv "after afterwardsmax, catherine flowerr of the environmental just doesn't rise reflects on her efforts to improve water and sanitation conditions in rural areas across america. she's interviewed by the senior editor. afterwards meg is a weekly interview program with relevant guest hosts interviewing top nonfiction authors about their latest works. all afterwards max programs are available as podcasts. >> first thing i would