Ambassador: 1 nation can win a war; it takes many to maintain the peace

by Sgt. Maj. Michael Pintagro
21st Theater Sustainment Command Public Affairs

The U.S. ambassador to Germany praised allied peace-building and humanitarian efforts and called for resolute action in the face of Russian aggression during a visit to Ramstein Dec. 13.

U.S. Ambassador John B. Emerson, who assumed duties as the 32nd American ambassador to Germany during the summer of 2013, delivered a powerful message before an audience of around 450 officers, enlisted leaders, and regional military and civic officials during the 21st Theater Sustainment Command’s 2014 Holiday Ball.

The ambassador described the U.S. response to Russian aggression in the Crimea and Ukraine as “crucial to our understanding of how military, political, economic and cultural alliances can work — or not — in the 21st century.” Noting that “Russia’s policies of aggression in Ukraine undermine the rule of law and territorial integrity that have been emblematic of post-Cold War Europe.” Emerson condemned the incursions in stark terms.

But the ambassador also held out hope for a diplomatic resolution to current tensions.
“NATO members and all those who support Ukraine’s sovereignty do not seek confrontation,” he said. “It is not our design or desire to isolate Russia. In fact, we are convinced that Moscow could rebuild trust and relationships if it simply helps to calm
turbulent waters and implements the Minsk agreements.

“If Russia takes such a path, sanctions will be lifted,” the Chicago-born, New York-bred diplomat added. “And what’s more, Russia’s role in addressing common challenges will be welcomed. For years, the U.S. and Russia have worked together on issues ranging from reducing our nuclear stockpiles to meeting our obligations under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty to cooperating in the Middle East.”

Emerson said this is the kind of cooperation that needs to be pursued.

“No one gains from this confrontation,” he said. “We have too much work to do and too many common challenges, from terrorism and nuclear proliferation to epidemic disease and climate change.”

The ambassador reiterated the centrality of the Western alliance to U.S. diplomacy and its importance to stability and humanitarian progress around the world following his remarks in Ramstein.

“People around the world look to the strength of the transatlantic partnership for inspiration,” he said. “I would say that how we have managed the events of the past year has proven that. We are all thankful for the key role that the U.S. military has played over the years in bringing us closer than ever before to our shared goal of a Europe, whole, free and at peace.

“Yet we also recognize that we cannot take peace and prosperity for granted,” he continued. “Major challenges have emerged over the past several months. Just look at the Ebola outbreak, the emergence of a barbaric terrorist threat in the Middle East, and Russia’s annexation of Crimea and incursions on the sovereignty of Ukraine. These naturally pose very different threats from those we experienced during the world wars of the last century or during the Cold War. But they are extremely significant and potentially very dangerous.”

Emerson emphasized the contributions of alliance and partnership to peace and stability, invoking contemporary as well as historic examples.

“While one nation can win a war, it takes many nations to maintain the peace,” he said. “Seven decades ago, it might have been almost inconceivable that a European-American partnership this strong would have risen from the ashes of World War II. And today we see that no one nation can make a real difference by acting alone. Instead we need a collective response, whether we are talking about climate change, the security of Ukraine, the energy stability of Europe, peace in the Middle East, combating the threat of disease like the deadly Ebola virus, or creating a framework that will sustain economic growth well into this century, like the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership agreement that the U.S. and the European Union are currently negotiating.”

The ambassador described the U.S. presence in Europe as essential to national security and American foreign policy.

“As transatlantic allies and partners, we are engaged in a re-examination of who we are and what we stand for in the post-Cold War, post-reunification, globalized world of the 21st century,” Emerson said. “The NATO summit in Wales was a part of this process. All 28 NATO allies made a series of very important commitments on assurance, defense spending, readiness and partnerships.”

The ambassador highlighted the contributions of U.S. military personnel, particularly Soldiers serving with U.S. Army Europe and the 21st TSC, to regional security as well as world humanitarian efforts.

“We all sleep better knowing that the U.S. military, as the strongest partner in the Alliance, is prepared for any contingency and supports the Rapid Response Force and increased presence in Central and Eastern Europe,” he said.

Turning his attention to Operation United Assistance and U.S. contributions to humanitarian endeavors in Ebola-afflicted West Africa, the ambassador praised the efforts of medical volunteers, aid workers, international partners and U.S. military personnel, including Soldiers from the 21st TSC’s 902nd Engineer Company (Vertical), part of the 15th Eng. Battalion, 18th Military Police Brigade, who recently built 74 structures in support of medical missions in Liberia. Emerson emphasized the potentially dire consequences of inaction in Africa.

“If this epidemic is not stopped, this disease could cause a humanitarian catastrophe across the region that would reverberate around the world,” he said. “In an era in which regional crises can quickly become global threats, stopping Ebola is in the interest of everyone. So we are very proud of those 21st TSC personnel who have participated in this important mission.”