01 December 2018

The defence policy, before strategies and plans

Stefan Danila

Image source: Mediafax

Recently, at the first conference organized by “Monitorul Apararii si securitatii” (the Defence and Security Monitor) we debated politics, diplomacy, defence, security. It was debated also the problem of politics’ involvement in diplomacy or defence. In fact, it was called for the necessity of politics not being involved in diplomacy or in defence, an accepted and supported idea by the majority of the participants. The sympathy for politics and politicians was obvious. But can one lead a state, or can the majorly important and complex issues be approached from emotional perspectives? What would be the result of separating the politics from diplomacy or even from the national security issue? Can we even imagine a true political person without him being a diplomate and without being involved and responsible with approaching the national defence and security?

National security and political parties

The importance of any state’s security is clear and it was underlined in the preliminaries of laws basis, which are ensuring the necessary normative framework for the institutions that need to accomplish this major objective: starting with the Constitution, continuing with the functioning laws, the statute of each personnel category across these institutions, governance programs, strategies, doctrines, regulations and orders. Still, we think that the first step in interpreting, organizing and directing the complex system which has to protect our existence, safety and interests is determined by the defence policy.

One of the biggest accomplishments of the post-Decembrist period is the fundamental law, Romania’s Constitution, the functioning basis of the democratic state and the guarantee of Romanian citizens’ defence of fundamental rights.  It is a document to be compared to the most modern documents across the world, which can prove its availability and usability in all the consolidated democracies, with an educational level to allow their own citizens a better and a correct understanding and a major involvement in the major decisions regarding the common well.

It could be applied also in Romania, with a less involvement and responsibility from those who are assuming the art to lead, which is the politics. This could be possible as long as it would not be necessary the consultation of an arbitrator for any normative document who, in his turn, has an inevitable stance, because aligning its members has a certain political algorithm. The modifications and afterthoughts of these priceless laws are difficult to be made, and this is one of its strongest points. A behavioral change, based on a better understanding of the responsibility of a certain stance, could be an expectation which is too big, yet, not impossible.

The political parties are the externalization of our wishes, a guarantee of democracy. These are institutions whose aim is to consolidate the energies of those with a common vision, which should, in fact, belong to a certain ideological family because we are not actually at the very beginning of the democratic life, we did not invent it, isn’t it? And the members of the political parties are political persons, the ones who are representing us, or the ones we choose to represent us.

Unfortunately, some are just “politicians”, a term which is defining a typology characterized by “qualities” like arrivism, nepotism, superficiality, corruption, demagogy.  A political person should be and, most of the times, it is, the local leader, who is almost umbilical connected, through law, to the party whose colors he was chosen to be part of.

Furthermore, the people from one party’s leadership, the ones who are, normally, assuming the responsibility to lead the state, must be “statesmen”, a characteristic which involves, through their own responsibilities, conscience and actions, the superior level of “political person” statute. In the circumstances of such an important event, this year’s NATO Summit from Brussels, with all the associated activities, it was underlined at least one interesting idea: “the sad, stiff and arrogant political person is dying”. This realistic evaluation needs a reflection, being underlined the importance of being led and represented by statesman.

Parties have platforms, programs, which are a plurality of popular choices, with solutions, most of the times different, depending on the group, ideology they are part of. In the immediate period after the elections the governance programs show up, which are the materialized ideas wherefore they got the majority’s trust and the support of those who voted.  And to be sure that these are actually materialized, they formed a government, which should mainly be led by the one who can apply the program and who carries its entire responsibility.

State’s institutions role in the defence policy

The national security, an extremely important field, must definitely be in this program, along with all the actions which will be developed and all the resources to be allocated for it. Of course, this program belongs to the majority that won the elections. The elections are not common anymore with the ones regarding President’s election, and the law which is regulating defence’s planning foresees the responsibilities of each institution involved in the process. Hence, the government is formed with a governance program and must present, in maximum six months from that moment, the White Carta of Defence, a document which has to materialize the National Defence Strategy, proposed by the President and approved by another Parliament, which (most likely) had another majority. If the president comes from the same majority, the White Carta must be the normal continuation of his vision, but things can be different too.

Considering that the White Carta is the document which lists the Strategy’s implementation resources, to be sure of the fact that it will launch an applicable document (in the absence of a “Country Project” created and accepted by all the political parties), the President could come with the solution of a political agreement before launching the Strategy like, for example, allocating a defence budget of minimum 2% from GDP, at least for Strategy’s validity period. 

Of course, he has also the possibility to make sure this will be accomplished, because the Carta needs the formal notification of the Supreme Council of the National Defence. This is wherefrom the influence and methods of action are coming, but they have to be involved and responsible also after getting the political agreement. Moreover, the parties which do not have the majority have the possibility to express their stance, critics and proposals across the Parliament. It means that they must pursue how the money is spent, if the money is properly spent because, who knows, there is always the possibility for them to win the future elections and their program to depend on the decisions made now. Again, we need involvement and responsibility.

The defence policy is a major element of the governance program, and this does not involve only allocating a budget.  It actually needs the permanent coordination of the Prime-Minister and the President, because they have complementary attributions, envisaged in the fundamental law. The Ministry of National Defence, with the General Staff of the Army and the Department for defence policy, planning and international relations, together with National Security’s Department, across the Presidential Administration, are the main institutions which must give their expertise, and the Supreme Council of National Defence (Romania) is the main forum wherein there are discussed, approved and notified the normative documents and actions across the defence field, accordingly with the legal attributions.

Parliament’s Defence Commission has an important role in elaborating laws, but also in modifying and upgrading them, in regulating the field accordingly with the assumed policy, as well as in dispensing the parliamentary control. Tough, in order to define the defence policy, the National Defence Strategy and the other normative documents in the field, it is needed a multidimensional Strategic Analysis, comprehensive and with tenable solutions, which involves a larger participation, including the initiatives of the business and academic environment representatives. Obviously, through a responsible involvement, the institution’s leaders must make sure that the ideas, solutions and generated projects are correct, usable and tenable. The political involvement which is forcing the argumentation for a given solution, but not deeply analyzed, is a serious irresponsibility, which could affect, on long-term, Romania’s security.

Probably this is the exact perspective wherefrom it was criticized the possibility of politics’ interference or involvement in diplomacy and defence. But verifying the argumentation, comparing results, making sure the proposals are fair, are actions which are accrued to the policy makers. This is the democracy, this is how things should be made for society’s prosperity, with at least two conditions for the political leaders: involvement and responsibility! The simple acceptance, unconditional and without an opened debate of how to use funds can be seen as superficial. Resources are important, essential actually, but how you use them is extremely important too. Only showing suspicions about the unproper use of the money is not actually a sufficient method to be responsible or involved. The constructive proposals can come from both parts. Hiding behind the need to classify some information does not solve the issues, but complicates them more. A coherent defence policy, regardless of the roughly need to change the ministers, can be made only if it is transparent, well founded and realistic.

The representation across the international security organizations

The context wherein Romania’s security is created is definitely, at this moment (hopefully on a longer period), the membership across the North-Atlantic Alliance and European Union. The strategic partnerships have also an important role, especially the one made with the US. But it does not mean that things are simpler. On the contrary, with advantages come also the responsibilities.  And the necessity of understanding and valuing the entire possible result from this statute is the most important obligation. To that end it is necessary a proper representation, with individuals who are capable to understand, inform and act adequately, accordingly with Romania’s strategic interests. Of course, a first condition should be to be represented in the institution which is preparing the projects, and the second to be present whereat the decisions are made (as much as we can). And the meetings with an impact over the decisions are formal, but also informal.

Representation has a special role. Normally, at the level of the international organization wherefrom we are part of are envisaged certain stances, grouped upon well-established criteria, which are contributing to harmonize states’ interests with multinational organization’s ones. Also important are those positions wherein it is envisaged a diplomatic or military degree of high level’s representative. Most of the times, the diplomatic degree is not recognizable at the first sight, but the military one is clear as the day, which shows more the importance of fulfilling the demand. Hence, it is important the position we have (assigned or gain through a competition), but also the degree of the one who has it, especially of the military one. An expressive example to that end it the one regarding the distribution in the cars: generals in generals’ buses (or in their own cars), and the colonels with the other colonels.

There are a lot of international positions, which can be occupied by any expert in the field, regardless of the citizenship, if his state is part of the related organization. And this is where Romanian experts, with responsible involvement, are encouraged to be. An example is the agency responsible for the European Defence Fund; on its involvement and representation method depends Romania’s interests’ materialization and emphasis. Hence, the representation across NATO and European Union must be part of the defence policy.

The organization of the armed forces, their foundation method, equipment, units’ arrangement, size, personnel policy, their statute are the elements which are creating the defence policy of a state and involves state’s institutions main principles, Parliament, President, Government and Intelligence Services. Any imbalance between these institutions is generating a serious vulnerability, a breach in the national security, with effects which will hardly be immediately identified. On the other hand, any of the leaders of these institutions can contribute through their own responsibility at solving the issues and harmonizing the positions.

Hence, we have a modern Constitutions, easy applicable in any consolidated democracy, with responsible leaders. Soon we will be presenting you some analysis of the laws about national security, as they are defined or how they result from the content. The necessity or the inopportunity of modifying some laws, to be complementary and accordingly with the others, will be presented after we will identify the discrepancies, if they exist, of course, and we will present also with some solutions. Step by step, we are identifying what normative acts should be improved or remade, because we are building the future today. And our children are the main motivation of our responsibility.

I)Florin Luca, How the adaptation to a new world was decided at the NATO Summit from Brussels and what Romania has to do about it, Financial Magazine, 18th of July, 2018.

II) Law 203/2015 regarding defence planning.

III) All the institutions are written in caps to be identified easier and to understand their place and their role. Moreover, the main documents we are referring to are written also in caps.

IV) Position expressed during the National Conference of the Defence and Security Monitor, from 20th of November 2018.