The Importance of Collaboration and Cooperation in 1648 and Today


Muenster City Hall, image courtesy Wikimedia

The Treaty of Westphalia, signed in 1648 in the Rathaus of Muenster, Germany, ended one of Europe’s bloodiest periods: the Thirty Years War (1618-1648) fought mostly on German soil, and 80 years of war between Spain and the Dutch Republic. Today two nations that benefitted from that peace treaty, Germany and the Netherlands (it achieved its independence as a result), are the framework nations for a multinational NATO High Readiness Corps headquartered in Muenster.

Photo courtesy German/Netherlands Corps

Last week I attended an interagency symposium hosted by the 1st German/Netherlands Corps held at both the Corps headquarters and in the Peace Room (Friedenssaal), the signatory room of the Peace of Westphalia. Below you can see a photo of our symposium and a work of art depicting the 1648 ratification. In terms of comparisons, we had about 100 participants at our event, while the diplomats represented at the peace treaty numbered about 200. Some of our participants were women, unlike in 1648. Our own EUCOM diplomat, Ambassador Heather Hodges, the interim Civilian Deputy to the Commander, was present at our meeting and is in the front row. Another contrast: the diplomats of 17th century Europe stayed in Muenster much longer than we did, as the treaties were negotiated over 5 years - we were there for just a day.

Why were we in Muenster? We got together to discuss the relevance of NATO’s “Comprehensive Approach.” There werediplomats present, as previously mentioned, and soldiers, academics, and representatives from think-tanks, NGOs, and international organizations such as the UN and International Red Cross. The consensus of those attending the symposium? That just as back in 1648, collaboration and cooperation are essential for peace. We agreed that the “3D” approach (Diplomacy, Development, Defense) is a necessary answer to the crises of the world. It is, in fact, indispensable.

Complex modern-day crises compel all stakeholders to sit with each other, to dialogue (“interaction on steroids,” as one participant noted), to share information, to be transparent and to use the “Comprehensive Approach” as a means to an end. This is not unlike what the diplomats of the 17th century were compelled to do in Muenster in order to bring about a commonly sought peace after decades of war.

Photo courtesy German/Netherlands Corps

EUCOM’s J9 Interagency Partnering Directorate has been working closely with the German/Dutch Corps over the past 10 months, building a table-top exercise (18-21 September) called “COMMON EFFORT” which will exercise a “3D” response to a notional crisis. Our aim -- as was noted by a Dutch speaker at the symposium --  is to seek a solution to a crisis which is “as civilian as possible, and as military as necessary.” We recognize that the military will likely often be a part of a solution to an international emergency. But we also recognized that the military was not and should not be the whole solution. For that reason, it is essential that we at EUCOM and other military commands, work closely with diplomats, development officials, and non-governmental stakeholders in order to achieve pragmatic solutions on the ground.

It was a unique experience to be in the same famed, gabled structure that once played host to one of the most famous peace treaties in European and western history. It was inspiring to be there in that room and to be surrounded by other national representatives -- French, British, Turkish, Dutch, Spanish, Norwegian, Swiss, German -- all endorsing a practical, realistic methodology for dealing with today’s crises, the “Comprehensive Approach.” Perhaps that is the way it felt back in the spring of 1648…

Mike Anderson
Deputy Director
J9 Interagency Partnering Directorate

Find more blog posts tagged with:

Comments: 2

by Mike Anderson on July 20, 2011 :

PS Magazine, Glad you liked it. Now we are even :) As a retired Ordnance Colonel of 30 years service, I always enjoyed reading your PS Magazines as a Heavy Maint Company Commander within 5th Inf Div, Ft Polk and while working Missile Maintenance repairs at the 563rd Msl Main Co (GS) in Wiesbaden, Germany. MPA ANDERSON

by halfmastpsmag on July 15, 2011 :

Mr. Anderson, Fantastic post! The personal aspect of it makes your blog worth revisiting, as well as recommending to our Soldiers. We have added you to our blogroll. Keep up the good work! HOOAH!

Your comment:

Related Topics

VAZIANI TRAINING AREA, Republic of Georgia-In front of a color detail with the national colors of America and the Republic of Georgia and the unit colors of the U.S. Marine Corps and Georgian military, Maj. Eric J. Andersen, executive officer Black Sea Rotational Force 11 and Kent, Wash., native,  â?forms the troops for the opening ceremony of Exercise Agile Spirit 2011, marking the official start of what is scheduled to be an annual training event with the partner nation. Marines with Alpha Company of Anti-Terrorism Battalion, and 4th Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion deployed to Georgia for their annual training to supplement the Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force deployment of BSRF-11, to conduct counterinsurgency and peacekeeping operations training at Vaziani Training Area. , Cpl. Tatum Vayavananda

International Cooperation

PISA, Italy (Mar. 4 2011)--U.S. Airmen from the 435th Air Mobility Squadron out of Ramstein Air Base load blankets, tarps and water containers onto C-130 aircraft in Pisa, Italy. These aircraft will then fly these supplies to Tunisia. The U.S. Government is working intensely with the International community to meet the humanitarian needs of the Libyan people and others in the country who fled across the borders. (U.S. Army Photo by Staff Sgt. Brendan Stephens/RELEASED)

Interagency Integration

Flag of France


Flag of Germany


Flag of Netherlands


Flag of Norway


Flag of Spain


Flag of Turkey


Flag of United Kingdom

United Kingdom

NATO flag

North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)

J9 logo

J9 – Interagency Partnering