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GLOBSEC 2017

If our only solution to terrorism is to fight it, we will fight forever

Highlights from Globsec 2017: Day 2 (May 27)

Ron Johnson and Justin Vogt (Source: SITA)

NATO Adapting to the Future Challenges

This panel reflected on the meeting of NATO leaders in Brussels and presented the future challenges facing the Alliance with Deputy Secretary General Rose Gottemoeller, general John Allen and Minister Linas Linkevicius chaired by Justin Vogt of Foreign Affairs.

Vogt recognised life achievements and great contribution of Zbigniew Brzezinski to the global security. GLOBSEC had, in close cooperation with general Allen developed the Initiative dedicated to identifying the greatest challenges the Alliance is facing today and to delivered a set of recommendations for the way forward. General opens the debate with his presentation of conclusions of the Initiative.

Read also: Read also:The time is right for Europe to strengthen its confidence

Justin addressed Ms Gottemoeller remarking that NATO used to be more like uber, less like NATO.

„Brzezinski was a passionate hunter. Once in Lithuania, shot two boars. He named them Molotov and Ribbentrop,” said Linas Linkevičius.

Rose Gottemoeller seems rather dissappointed with the twitterstorm about what happened with Montenegrian Prime Minister and President Trump remarking that Montenegro has been warmly welcomed at the meeting of leaders and we should all celebrate that fact.

Minister Linkevičius shifted the attention to the strategic communication issues saying that instead of artillery fire we have brainwashing. Information warfare is less expensive than the missiles and we need to address this in a proper way, he added.

The issue of sanctions on Russian officials raised in the exchange with the audience. Rose Gottemoeller sees no slacking of those. Minister Linkevičius remarks that if the sanctions aren’t effective, we should add sanctions.


“If our only solution to terrorism is to fight it, we will fight forever. No child is born a terrorist,” said General John Allen.

Disruptive technologies and the Future Conflict

Patrick Tucker lead an extremely interesting panel featuring General Breedlove, Tomasz Szatkowski, Howard Bromberg, Sarah Kreps and Franz-Stefan Gady. General Breedlove delivers his opening remarks on developing new disruptive capabilities and the challenges to their procurement.

Polish State Secretary Szatkowski noted that Poland is going for „simpler but more“ concept of introducing automated and autonomous systems in their defence capabilities.

Sarah Kreps first remarks that 90% of innovative technologies fail in Silicon Valey. In defence industry, such a rate of failure is not accepteble.

Patrick Tucker pointed to the problem of assymetry, where governements have to be accountable to voters, media and others while non-state actors by definition can act without any restraint.

The speed of decisions is geting higher every day and this is something we need to talk when thinking about the future of conflict. General asked an open question: do you think you can call your capital in 4,5 minutes to tell them a missile is incoming & then engage it? Probably not, answered General.

Are we relying on technology too much at costs of rising defence budgets and cuts in numbers of service members? To this question General Breedlove said very few conversations he had about these cuts were due to investments in technology.

General Bromberg highlighted the need to embrace the innovation across the industry when it comes to defence acquisition.

The issue of Chinese policy of building artificial islands in a “salami slice” strategy is compared to Russian tactic of “little green men in Crimea”. Is US able or willing to react to these actions happening below radar? General Breedlove says US could, but sometimes decides not to react.

“We will, one day fight in the space. It is going to happen,” said General Philip Breedlove.

What is the weapon transforming the conflict for the next 20years? Speakers list the technology connecting the operator to the sensor, precision non kinetic weapon, militarized civilan drones and use of cyber tools to lattach nuclear sites. Interconnection of the new weapon systems.

Protectionism vs. Globalism: Global Free Trade Running of Innovation

“Trade has become sexy again,” said Tom Nuttall. There is hardly any surprise to it with US President Trump´s tendencies to flip any known concepts of the free trade agreements as well as rising anti-trade forces rising throughout European countries.

Philippa Malmgren and Barry Lynn both agreed from the start that the system of global free trade is already set up. The only challenge remains to take good care of it and do not take it for granted. Mr Lynn insisted the free trade should be reconceptualised again as an anti-monopoly measure in order to free up the people.

“Challenge of today is how to manage the extreme interdependence inherent to the current global trade system,”said Barry Lynn, Director of Open Markets Program, New America

Malmgren joined him on this argument stressing that free trade should protect competition, not the competitors.

“Trade policy is a step child of the political arena,” said Philippa Malmgren, former Special Assistant to the US President

Significant point of the discussion obviously focused on the TTP and CETA agreements. Former Canadian Foreign Minister, Stéphane Dion, said Canada would love to have free trade arrangements under the TTP in the Pacific region. However, he was clear to say it cannot be just any agreement.

The example of CETA negotiations rang strongly mainly with the Australians in the room. As Australia aims to get the free trade agreement with the EU as well, it is buckling up for a difficult process. Stéphane Dion´s advice was loud and clear:

The question remains how committed is Europe to opening up to the rest of the world while so much protectionism is being included to the EU´s trade agreements.

“No one in Canada is too happy about looming renegotiation of NAFTA,” said Stéphane Dion, former Foreign Minister of Canada.

Obviously, Brexit was a hot topic of this panel as well. The main issue discussed was possible starting point of the UK in terms of trade after the negotiations are over. Malmgren does not see reverting to the WTO-based regulation of the UK´s trade as problematic. Trade relations between the US and the UK are being governed by these rules and it is not the worst case. Tom Nuttall points out that it is quite unusual to hear someone London-based to be optimistic about the reverse to the WTO after Brexit.

Threat-Financing: Money Illicit Trade and (In)Security

Henry McDonald of the Guardian introduced Peter Neumann, Hans-Jakob Schindler, Alvise Gustiniani and Keith Groves to the discussion on the new trends in financing of terrorism. Does everyone taking part in illicit trade share responsibility for next terror attack?

Hans-Jakob Schindler acknowledged right from the start that there are explicit crime - terror connections in small scale local terrorism financing. Peter Neumann told a story of a guy selling arms to Charlie Hebdo attacker defending himself that he thought he was just a „normal criminal“.

“In Ireland, we have a saying: normal decent criminal,” said Henry McDonald.

Alvise Gustiniani stressed that the solution to the problem of illicit trade is public private partnership. This partnership should be strengthened.

Neuman spoke also about the so called “cybercaliphate”, the most effective recruiting organisation since Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Peter makes a point of saying attacks on 9/11 were coordinated by veterans of Jihad against Soviets 13 years after the war ended. We talk about the attack in Manchester while the conflict in Syria is still on. This will not go away so soon, I fear, he added.

Terrorist groups have been very entrepreneurial when it comes to high-tech. Keith Groves approaches the question stressing the fact that in order to address these problems we have to recognize its complexity.

“Small amounts is what counts. You don’t need a million dollars for Manchester,” said Hans Schindler.

Peter Neumann stresses ISIL uses its hold of territory for their financing, and that creates problems for counterterrorism policies being in place.

Criminal as well as terror groups all over the world do start getting their funding by attaching themselves to the already existing industries such as poppy production. This was the case in Afghanistan, where the Taliban was initially funded mostly from poppy production, notes Schindler. Also, infamous Mokhtar Mokhtar was called Mr Marlboro as he was smuggling large amounts of cigarettes, adds Schindler.

Gulf sponsors of terrorism in the Middle East are of course crucial for its financing, but supporters from the West are also not negligible as they are profiting from the fact that everyone in Europe and the West have bank accounts. As this money come in small amounts, these are not tracked so easily, Schindler said.

“Corruption does help terrorism. Will solvng corruption stop the financing of terrorism? No, because it simply isn’t the enabler,” said Hans-Jakob Schindler.

American Leadership: Peace through Economic Strength

Chairman of Homeland Security Committee, Senator Ron Johnson enters the stage with Justin Vogt for a chat on the future of US leadership.

Vogt addressed the direction of the foreign policy of the new administration in the White House. The debate swiftly turned to the question of climate change.

“I would not agree that human activity is the main driver of climate change,“ said Senator Ron Johnson.

On the issue of free trade and NAFTA, Senator agreed with the narrative of the White House that United States have treated unfairly in free trade deals. Free but fair trade is the is the way to go, he adds when talking TPP and TTIP.

“There are winners and losers in an kind of free trade,” said Senator Ron Johnson.

On NATO meeting in Brussels, Senator wants to cut some slack to the President and he sees that Mr President did mention Article V in his speech even if he did not use the right magic words. The whole event was about the Article. When Mr Trump said in his campaign speech that US needs to be more less predictable, Senator disagreed - we need to be far more predictable. Senator continues to praise President Trump for acting swiftly in Syria after the gas attack.

When asked about President Trump sharing intelligence with the Russian officials, Senator voices his concerns about the leaks happening in the White House.

Senator argued that the Iran deal of previous administration was a disaster. They might be harder hardliners, but there are no moderates among Iranian officials, according to Senator Johnson. Issue of propaganda and and Russian influence in political process in US was raised by the audience question. Senator stressed there is a cross-party agreement on the fact the US need to recognize the threat and prepare strategies to push back.

Safeguarding the Future: How to Outsmart the AI?

Patrick Tucker leads the way with Marek Rosa, Khalil Rouhana and Andreas Ebert. Tucker introduced the panel on the future of Artificial Intelligence by reminding the audience that the word “robot” actually comes from a Czech author, Karel Čapek and his play R.U.R.

Picking up on Patrick´s remarks that we invented the fear of the robots right after we invented the robots, Mr Rouhana was rather optimistic of the technological development in the AI domain.

“Fears are justified if you´re not able to master the technology,” Khalil Rouhana, Deputy Director-General, DG CONECT, European Commission, said.

Andreas Ebert polemicized with the title of the session, arguing that instead of outsmarting the AI, we should be thinking about it as enhancing human ingenuity. He pointed out the philosophy with which Microsoft approaches their development of the AI – democratising of the AI. It is there necessary to ensure broad spread of the technology across the regions and sectors of the economy. Additionally, it should also mean broadening of the ecosystem of the developers to include multitudes of the inputs.

AI is often credited with future loss of jobs on one hand and doubling of the economic growth on the other. Reconciling the two, Mr Rouhana pointed out that looking on the EUbarometer results, those countries who invest the most into innovation and automation, have the lowest unemployment rate.

The issue of updating the skills of the workforce brought up the discussion on the digital literacy.

He added that we need to be careful with the regulation to be able to allow for the innovation to develop fully and not to regulate too early.


Finally, responsibility for the acts of the AI was hugely debated as well. Marek Rosa interestingly pointed out the decision he sees between the manufacturer and the user. As long as the software is pre-programmed, the responsibility lies in the hands of the manufacturer. However, in case of an adaptable software taking commands from a customer, it is the user who is accountable for the implications.

“Embrace the surprises coming from the Artificial Intelligence,” said Marek Rosa, CEO & CTO, GoodAI.

The text was originally published as part of the daily summaries from the GLOBSEC 2017 Bratislava Forum.

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