New communication strategy for a fresh defense narration

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With the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February, it has been once again proven that we are in an unpredictable period, where multi-level crises, including sectors from energy food and health to the environment, have cumulatively peaked. In every region analyzed, we come across a security problem. Without a doubt, all states are required to generate policies, invest in the defense industry and actively take part in global cooperation and partnerships if they want to curb any kinds of security threats. They are expected to strengthen their defense power at the domestic level, and to promote mutual international understanding at the global level. However, both must be in line with the new global defense narration and transformation.

In the recent NATO gathering in Madrid, the alliance unveiled its new strategic concept, a guiding document outlining the enduring nature of the alliance. It appears to be the most updated version of this required narrative for security. The document is a complete break from NATO’s strategic concept from 2010 and reflects a completely new chapter. First, it outlines core tasks (deterrence and defense, crisis prevention and management, cooperative security). Secondly, it assesses threats like terrorism and Russia, and as expected, it also discusses the rise of China, while Russia is already discussed enough. Earlier in July, the Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research (SETA), a prominent think tank based in Turkey, organized a web panel on the new concept. Titled “NATO: New Strategic Concept and European Security,” the panel discussed the topic of security. It concluded that the need for security communication is required for all actors, while the Russia-Ukraine war is the most concrete and recent trigger of it.

For decades, a false dichotomy between Europeanists and Atlanticists has fueled an unproductive security debate in Europe. Today, few doubt that Europeans must contribute more to NATO and European security, and that they should develop the capacity to lead in future security crises. The question, therefore, is how Europe can best contribute to NATO’s mission. Strengthening the trans-Atlantic relationship implies recognizing that its European component has changed. The events of recent months have shown that the EU can respond to security threats in a coordinated and improved manner. This is related to the strategy the continent followed.

Germany and Turkey examples

More can be added to the Europe and NATO angle for security. However, I would like to give some examples for security communication here. Just like any policy to be realized, robust security requires robust defense, and robust defense requires robust communication strategy. Today, without a comprehensive communication policy, it is known that states are incapable of realizing any objective or goal.

Germany, for example, is pursuing a well-prepared strategy in Europe. Already known as the capital of defense power in the continent, the country, a key EU actor, has shifted its policy in defense by raising its hand in the global competition. To add this, the German government’s policy shift – nearly doubling defense expenditure this year to 100 billion euros ($107 billion) – represents a historic opportunity to finance projects with other European partners. And Germany is not alone. The war in Ukraine has prompted EU member states to announce previously unseen increases in defense spending totaling 200 billion euros over the next four years.

Recently, I had an opportunity to visit the last organization of ILA Berlin, the largest aerospace trade show in Germany, organized by the German Trade Association of Aerospace Industries (BDLI) and Messe Berlin. The event, for example, can be counted as a significant example of security communication. The cutting edge technology in the Berlin show both revealed the higher level of aerospace development and the representation at the event.

In addition to Germany, Turkey also appears as another country whose defense policy and investments have been yielding positive results in its region and beyond. Most tangibly, it is known that the Turkish drones played a game changing role in the second Karabakh war, where the Azerbaijani military gained an advantage over Armenia thanks in particular to the Bayraktar unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), produced by the Turkish defense firm of Baykar. Now, several countries are a customer of the company. For this and more, Turkey used a convincing diplomatic language and adopted a smart communication strategy. Francis Fukayama’s op-ed published by American Purpose about the success of Turkish drones is still fresh in minds.

Like NATO, Europe, Germany and Turkey, all other organizations and states should be a part of this new security narration arising in the world, and, for that, a new communication compass is required. It shouldn’t be forgotten that communication binds the promotion of mutual international understanding on a global level. That is, a stronger international community would benefit Turkey, Europe, NATO and all global security at the end of the day.

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