Director of the Finnish Institute of International Affairs Teija Tiilikainen gave the welcome words and opened the seminar. She led to the topic of the seminar ”transformation of power” by posing a question – what is power? States are not the only actors in international politics, but rather the multinational actors should be taken into account by studying the whole setting of actors. By referring to Michel Foucault, it was also pointed out that not only actors but also structures are relevant. Director Tiilikainen also referred to the different discourses of power and transition of powers.
Director of the Center on US Politics and Power (CUSPP) and the Director of the Global Security Research Programme at the Finnish Institute of International Affairs Mika Aaltola also welcomed the audience by saying a few words about the Center and the strategical level of knowledge in Finland. Knowledge of the US has seemed to decline after the Cold War. From the perspective of Finland it is relevant to consider the US role in the region and in the global governance. Last year’s CUSPP Summer session was organized on the topic of Nordic-Baltic Security and the US Role in the region. This year the Summer session aims to have a broader view. The security needs of regions, people and states are moving. Therefore, the complexity of insecurities should be understood. Programme Director Aaltola highlighted the following issues: As the US is seen as having an important role in the world, what are the specifics of this role? The view could be pragmatic or moral – what should be the value basis (military versus other means of powers). Other aspects to be considered are criticism, expectations and demands (the US’s own strategic vision and that of its allies). What should be the overall balance and priorities and how should power be smartly utilized? In conclusion, the US continues to be an object of fascination. But that we have an interest does not necessarily mean that we really understand it.
The keynote speaker of the seminar, Director of Carnegie Europe, Jan Techau concentratedin his remarks on the different aspects of transformation of power and the difficulties to grasp it. As Techau pointed out, there is a certain need for a grand narrative but in the end the task is almost impossible. By covering all these actually become useless.
In his speech, Mr. Techau focused on factors shaping power in the 21st century. Firstly, globalization, meaning that everything is connected and flows freely. Another aspect is the increase in actors and the new players; NGOs, terrorist groups, informal networks, online communities etc. These seem to be hard to map out. Other ”trends” or questions that were mentioned include, for example the new global middle class, the empowerment of individuals, technical developments, singularity (machine-men), and regionalism as a next big thing. Techau also pointed out that the possibility also exists that nothing is really changing that much at all.
As an example of the complexities and long-term timelines Techau mentioned the European politics and refugee crisis. Why are governments stressed, why is everybody overwhelmed and why is the EU not functioning? It seems that the EU is facing a comprehensive policy failure. As part of the public policy failure, Techau mentioned related policy fields, that are not only problematic now, but have been for the last 20 years: immigration policy, integration, asylum, border control, humanitarian aid policy, organized crime (business model), labor and social transform policies, identity politics and trade policies.
The question of the definition of power as a capability to find solutions to complex problems was mentioned as one of the topical questions. The following were mentioned as part of Techaus remarks: 1) hard security – firepower, readiness – the value of military operations is what comes after the military conflict – stabilization (hybrid warfare;) 2) climate policies- environment protection – undertaking of global government, global economic fairness, science value to back it up, biodiversity; 3)economic trade – global governance, fairness in the world ; 4) development aid – what used to be something else, is now about anticorruption, women’s rights, civic empowerment etc. All the big issues have become more complex – and need more and better understanding
According to Techau we now see the complexity that basically has been there, but has been overlooked. However, there are many tools and actors. One of the related questions then is the diffusion of authority and knowledge. The question is about comprehensivity, (e.g. small players that can be integrated or full integration) Another relevant issues of decision-making is, how to find the right balance between effectiveness and accountability. The question at least in democracies is who controls the elites (the question of big data) and prevents possible abuses. How is the government bound back to the people, the owner of the sovereignty?
At the end of his talk, Techau mentioned that trends challenge power. The question therefore is who adapts best to the new rules. It is in our own hands, and not in those of Russia or China, whether we rise or fall as was pointed out by Techau. According to him more political integration is needed to keep the Eurozone alive.
As a commentator, Nonresident Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council, Robert Nurick emphasized in his talk the divisions of public-private, government/ non-government and military/non-military. The present day policy agenda consists of new types/ways of issues. As an example, hybrid warfare (–or asymmetric warfare as called in Russia) is used so elastically that it has lost its meaning
Nurick also raised a question for the decision-makers in times of crisis – what is our business and what are our responsibilities? The answers are not clear or simple. How do you avoid escalation? The question of decision-making at the national and institutional level, consists of many actors who have not been used to working together.
One example is the cyber – which consists of both public and private aspects as most of the infrastructure is in private hands. Including individuals, non-government and government entities need to decide who has what responsibilities. There is no real consensus on the extent and limit of government powers in this respect – where to persuade rather than make orders?
Furthermore, Nurick pointed out the topical issue of counter-terrorism. Who or what to blame for the Iraq policies? ISIS – whether it is for example the Obama’s premature withdrawal, or Bush’s decision in the first place –seems to be a heavily partisan question. We know military intervention can maintain peace, but cannot keep the peace alone. Rather, political accommodation is needed, but it is hard, when it requires dealing with the complicated situation of economic failure connected to ethnic conflict and government failure. The relevant question is what needs to be done afterwards.
In sum, Nurick pointed out to the question of how to get across the old barriers – in the US the political community is broad and the size is both a benefit and a problem.
Commentator Katri Pynnöniemi concentrated on the issue of how Russia fits or does not fit to the picture and to the idea of transformation of power. She mentioned the collapse of the Soviet Union as an example of power diffusion at the local level. The 2000 transformation of Russian political discourse had a chance to develop differently. In regard to the Ukraine conflict, soft power in Russia seems to be only an academic issue. At the local level Russia uses the complexity as a benefit. In regard to the cooperation between military and civilian power Pynnöniemi mentioned the public security document of December 2013, where the civilian component is included, but not very well developed yet.
Questions that were posed by the audience tackled with the question of complexity. The comment by Senior Visiting Fellow Michael Haltzel at FIIA, for example, stated that the West has all the tools to integrate and master, but in the long run, lots of these problems are immediate ones that need to be settled now. What should be also taken into account are the counter reactions. Other questions touched upon the question of union effort, without the union, linkages that are developed but they are rather weak still, and the leadership and its relation to decision-making.
Summary 2nd session:
The main focus of the 2nd Session was on the US long term policies in the era of increasing complexities and challenges and thereby on understanding the role of US on the global scale and investigating upcoming transformations of the policies taken to maintain US leadership.