Transatlantic Homeland Security and collective action
The end of the Cold War more than a decade ago created a world in which the relative stability between the two superpowers has disappeared. During the Cold War, a country’s every action was conducted in the light of the adversary relationship between the United States and the Soviet Union. As the possibility of a major power declined dramatically, large military organizations with the primary mission of fighting interstate war became somewhat redundant.
The new security challenges that arose, be they international terrorism, illegal immigration, human trafficking, cyber-security or ethnic conflicts, all required new or modified instruments to combat them. Modern terrorists are flexible in their movement and in their operational planning. They easily change location, transfer money and people across borders and conduct a range of preparatory activities before every attack. The leading 9/11 suicide kidnappers; for example, lived in Germany and regularly travelled both to Asia and USA while planning their attacks. Such patterns of travel, movements of funds, communications and interpersonal relations can only be analysed and effectively monitored by multinational intelligence cooperation and extensive information sharing. Only by pooling intelligence resources can the USA, Canada and the European States hope to surmount the inherent flexibility of terrorism and effectively determine intent for active prevention.
Multinational intelligence cooperation is the most important weapon in the battle to contain the global terrorism, but its significance is even greater than that. The first few years of the twenty-first century have witnessed a change in the role of the intelligence in international politics. Intelligence and security issues are now more prominent than ever in Western political discourse as well as the wider public consciousness. Much of this can be attributed to the shock of the terrorist acts in USA (2001), Spain (2003) and UK (2005) and Bulgaria (2012).
In the 21st century, a key task of transatlantic cooperation is to protect the critical functions of our deeply interconnected societies. It is about time to call for a strategy of transatlantic resilience. The United States and the European Union member states must work together to ensure that the basic structures and critical functions of our interconnected societies remain strong and can go on even in the face of natural or man-man disasters. Such a strategy must involve several areas such as intelligence sharing; creating common standards for data protection on air, and seaport security; CBRNE issues; and cyberwarfare. The part of the strategy that deals with counter-terrorism should include collaboration on threat assessment as well as better cooperation between EUROPOL and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Similarly, the Situation Center (intelligence body of the European Union) must develop strong cooperation with the USA Intelligence Community.
Furthermore, the European Union new Stockholm Security Program focuses on prevention and allows the opportunity for a strong transatlantic community on upstream security issues related to risk analysis, research, intelligence, threat assessments and disaster mitigation.
However, since September 2001, law enforcement authorities in the United States and the European Union states have been pushed to abandon their traditional local or traditional orientation, with only mixed results. As with information collection, the American and European efforts have moved in parallel but largely separate tasks, with the emphasis on building collaboration with the United States and the European Union, rather than reaching out across the Atlantic.
In the United States, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has given increasing emphasis to an antiterrorist mission; an evolution which has been efforts to revitalize institutions such as EUROPOL and EUROJUST by developing joint transatlantic investigation teams which will cooperate on cases that cross international borders. Furthermore, the European Union border agency (FRONTEX) must start a strong cooperation with US authorities.
Finally, in the 21st century, the war against international terrorism requires more than ever collective action among the intelligence services depended on shared intelligence and common assessments in order to prevent once again prospective major terrorist acts in Europe and United States. There is no time to lose.