Contributions for this issue were received from Riccardo Alcaro, Valerio Briani, Edoardo Camilli, Silvia Colombo, Francesca Giovannini, Valerie Miranda and Rosa Rosanelli.
Mediterranean and Middle East
Clash or cooperation of civilizations? : overlapping integration and identities / edited by Wolfgang Zank. - Aldershot ; Burlington : Ashgate, c2009. - xii, 225 p. - (The international political economy of new regionalisms series). - ISBN 978-0-7546-7407-8
In this book, Wolfgang Zank from Aalborg University has brought together eight rather unrelated essays spanning a variety of historical and geographical contexts. The book is constructed on a limited number of recurrent and interrelated themes, such as collective identities, dialogue vs conflict, cooperation and integration, which are however developed independently in each of the essays. The title, places the analyses in a identity/cultural perspective. However, while echoing Samuel Huntington's debated and often contested idea of a 'clash of civilizations' as the new paradigm in international relations, the book falls short of clearly defining the concept of 'civilization'. In some essays it is understood as a purely cultural concept (chapters 4 and 8), leaning towards the 'cultural politics' debate; in other essays (chapter 2), it takes on a religious connotation which explores the conflict between Islamist and secular civil society in the Middle East and the responsibility of external actors in pitting one against the other. Finally, some chapters of the book discuss forms of cooperation among different civilizations by means of concrete examples of domestic and foreign politics regarding the countries of the Southern Mediterranean region.
Despite this diversification, a thread uniting all the contributions can be found: they all involve, in one form or another, relations with the European Union (EU). For example, the evolution of Euro-Med relations, shaped by two different sets of policy initiatives, namely the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership (EMP) and the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP, not limited to the Southern Mediterranean region), is presented in more than one chapter, and various points stress the process of Europeanisation that, according to Zank, is making some Southern Mediterranean societies "increasingly similar to the models in place in the European Union, and ... lead[ing] to an increasingly close cooperation between the EU countries and North Africa" (109). Instances of cooperation emerge between two geographical regions, Europe and the Western part of the Southern Mediterranean, which originally had different economic, political, and cultural features and have evolved along different paths.
The book's main contribution to the scholarly debate is its focus on a number of important developments in the Southern Mediterranean, such as the rapprochement between the Turkish Islamic elite and the EU that is analysed through identity/cultural lenses. This reminds us that these aspects are crucial and that they influence developments in the international arena more often than is acknowledged in institutionalised frameworks of cooperation. For example, it is important to recall that, after 15 years, the third basket of the EMP, broadly identified with the social, cultural and human partnership, is the one that has achieved the least in terms of cooperation and has recently caused substantial problems due to attempts to use the debate on cultural and religious identity as a tool for supremacy in the political arena.
Overall, the book strives to argue that, despite the existence of conflicts, what we have today is a rather stable trend towards increased cooperation among different 'civilizations' and cultures. In particular, as stated in the conclusions, the integration between the EU and the countries on the other side of the Mediterranean will continue even if new forms of inter-Arab and sub-regional cooperation emerge in the future. Furthermore, the book tries to paint a rosy picture of the outcome of this integration in terms of democratic advances in Southern Mediterranean countries and the ability of those countries to influence EU decisions in matters to which they attach value. The final result is taken hostage, however, by the differences in tone of the contributions, which significantly impinge upon the emergence of a clear picture in terms of what the prospects are for cooperation among different collective identities in the EU neighbourhood. (Silvia Colombo)
Iranian weapons of mass destruction : the birth of a regional nuclear arms race? / Anthony H. Cordesman and Adam C. Seitz. - Santa Barbara ; Denver ; Oxford : published in cooperation with the Center for Strategic and International Studies [by] Praeger Security International, c2009. - xii, 386 p. - ISBN 978-0-313-38088-4 ; 978-0-313-38089-1 (ebk)
In what they call a "risk analysis, not a prophecy", Cordesman and Seitz present Iran as the single most serious security challenge in the Middle East. Located in a region that dominates the world's export of oil and gas, its progressing nuclear and missile programs exacerbate regional and global insecurity and could finally lead the Middle East and the United States to new forms of a serious nuclear arms race, fuelled by extremist rhetoric. A potential threat to the very existence of Israel, the Iranian nuclear threat has in fact led Israel as well as the US to seriously consider preventive war. Nevertheless, since it cannot afford to risk provoking new coalitions against it or be faced with preventive or pre-emptive military actions, Tehran seems to have developed a strategy that relies strongly on ambiguity and misperception, confusing the leaders of the international community as to its real intentions and capabilities. A strategy that has given Iran added leverage in its war of intimidation, demonstrating that "denial can be a weapon".
The subject Cordesman and Seitz deal with, clouded by uncertainty, has been the object of unclassified analyses, often contradictory and based on dubious sources, and only a few meaningful official reports. What they try to do therefore is clarify ambiguities in order to identify the key decision-makers, assessing the credibility of various sources, and make an extremely complex national command- and-control structure more understandable, focusing on the Supreme Leader's broad powers in national security and defence matters, and the growing influence of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC). Cooperation and support from other countries such as China, India and Russia but also North Korea and Pakistan are also taken into account, as well as the role Iran plays in asymmetric warfare scenarios supporting groups like Hezbollah and the Afghan Talibans.
Clear and detailed at the same time, the in-depth analysis of Iranian military assets includes appropriate references to key nuclear facilities, the major developments in Iran's nuclear program and its long history of research into uranium enrichment, its missile arsenal and technology, and its space, chemical, nuclear and biological programs. Weaponization issues are also analyzed with an eye to the broader strategic context, emphasizing the threats posed by Iran to stability in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf region. The attentive analysis of possible developments and future nuclear programs is meant to overcome the many conflicting reports and existing gaps and to estimate Iranian capabilities. Future prospects include US strike options against Iran, as well as options for defence and extended deterrence for the US and Israel. Useful maps, timelines, schemes and chronologies make the scenarios more understandable and provide the keys to understanding a complex but essential issue for international relations. These features make the book a useful tool for policymakers and researchers alike. (Rosa Rosanelli)
Security and defence
European security in a global context : internal and external dynamics / edited by Thierry Tardy. - London ; New York : Routledge, 2009. - xx, 236 p. - (Contemporary security studies). - ISBN 978-0-415-47682-9 ; 978-0-203- 88535-2 (ebk)
With the important changes that occurred at the international and European levels after the end of the Cold War, the academic and political debate on European security has undergone a swift acceleration. However, the term "European security" remains ambiguous, having manifold interpretations. If most scholars tend to equate it with the security of the European Union (EU), Tardy proposes adopting a more regional approach not confining Europe to the EU alone, but "taking it as a geographical or political framework in which security-related events take place" (2). Aimed, in the editor's words, "at providing a better understanding of contemporary European security", this collection of essays is divided into two parts that respectively investigate internal and external security dynamics. In line with the broad conception of Europe, the first three chapters deal with the three security institutions operating on the continent (and beyond), the EU, NATO and OSCE. They offer quite a pessimistic view of the organisations' effectiveness, albeit for different reasons. As far as the EU is concerned, Tardy claims that, despite its potential to play a global role, its influence globally is still limited. With respect to NATO, Lindley-French, drawing mainly on the Afghan experience, remarks that the capability of the North Atlantic Alliance to act effectively in the post-Cold War security environment is decreasing. Finally, with reference to the OSCE, Ghebali recognises its comparative advantage in the fields of conflict prevention and institution building, but questions its role as a security-provider. Another important component of European internal security dynamics is Russia, whose relationship with the EU is examined in depth by Herd. He argues that the EU(-NATO)-Russia relationship has been deteriorating over the last two years due in part to contingent contrasts but mainly to deep-rooted divergences in ideas, identities, interests and institutions. The second part of the book is more heterogeneous and looks at Europe's interactions with other regions or states. The chapters seem to reach the same conclusion: the EU is not at the centre of other powers' strategic thinking. Indeed, according to McArdle Kelleher (whose piece was written before US President Obama was elected), although the relationship between Europe and the US improved after the 2003 Iraqi crisis, there are still important divisions over strategic principles and policies. Marginal interest towards Europe is even more evident in Xiang's and Jaffrelot and Sidhu's analyses of China and India, respectively. While the three authors agree that the EU is not perceived at the international level as an effective security actor, Xiang is much more optimistic about the future of Sino-European relations. Relations with the Middle East and Africa are examined mainly from the EU point of view. Dannreuther describes EU policy towards the Middle East as still weak, but notes that it has improved constantly over time, with the EU establishing new and potentially more effective instruments. Olsen, on the other hand, critically argues that Africa is still a secondary security challenge for the EU that lacks, among other things, a consistent strategic approach to the crucial development-security nexus. All in all, the book is an interesting read. Its main strength is that it objectively illustrates the costs for the EU of not becoming an effective security-provider. Yet its scope and novelty seem curbed by the fact that, despite the initial intentions, most contributions tend to focus more on the EU than on a broad concept of Europe. Thus, the editor does not seem to have attained his purpose. What is most misleading is the fact that Tardy himself recognises the Europe-EU shift and anticipates it in the introduction. Cleverly, he justifies it in terms of a paradox, concluding rightly that if Europe may be losing centrality as a geopolitical space, the EU as an institution is attracting more and more attention. (Valerie Miranda)
Fortresses and icebergs : the evolution of the transatlantic defense market and the implications for U.S. national security policy / by Jeffrey P. Bialos, Christine E. Fisher, Stuart L. Koehl ; co-ed. and co-contributor Christer L. Mossberg ; co-contributors Giovanni Gasparini, Andrew D. James. - Washington : Center for Transatlantic Relations, 2009. - 2 v. (xiii, 698 p. compless.). - ISBN 978-0-9841341-1-3 (v. 1) ; 978-0-9841341-2-0 (v. 2)
The transatlantic defence market is commonly characterised by two metaphors, 'fortresses' and 'icebergs', which refer respectively to the demand and the supply side of the market. 'Fortress' indicates the tendency towards closed national environments which exclude foreign competitors through laws, policies and practices. 'Iceberg' describes the level of integration and linkages between US and European defence supply chains: largely separated at the level of system integrators, European and US suppliers show some degree of integration at lower, less visible levels (especially at the subsystems and components providers level). These two images, while based on an objective lack of integration of the transatlantic market, do not accurately reflect the relations between the two sides of the Atlantic and have become something of a myth - a superficial vision which Fortresses and Icebergs aims to dispel. The study intends to evaluate the actual degree of market access of US defence companies in Europe, and vice versa, and to understand the implications for the United States of increasing European integration.
The study, commissioned by the US Department of Defense, is organised into two volumes. Volume I includes the core findings on the accessibility of defence markets in Europe and the US, the implications of the evolution of the market for US security policy, and recommendations to US authorities on how to foster a more open and competitive transatlantic market. This volume also offers an introductory chapter on the overall market and policy context, and a chapter on the growing role of the EU - and European intergovernmental arrangements - in defence markets. Volume II provides eight country studies: United States, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Romania and Sweden. For each country, the study presents a market background and evolution analysis, an assessment of market cooperation with the US, a review of the main dynamics of both demand and supply and, finally, issues of market access.
These national studies offer excellent insight into the procurement processes of the countries analysed, and would in themselves represent valuable reading for anyone interested in the subject. Added value is provided by the fact that the authors do not limit themselves to analysing the economic and political factors involved in the process, but also include other dimensions (such as cultural preferences or the political and historical context), thereby painting a very complete picture of the decisionmaking processes.
The analysis offered in Volume I, however, is even more valuable. The main conclusions of the authors are, first of all, that the European Union is gradually and increasingly turning into a relevant actor in the European defence market; that European national markets are progressively becoming more competitive, while a 'European preference' is slowly replacing the old 'national preference' in procurement matters; and that these developments pose a number of opportunities and challenges for the US. A natural corollary is that American policymakers should recognise this reality and, taking it into account, modify US policies accordingly. The authors include several recommendations for US authorities for improving market openness and achieving more efficiency and better value for money.
Fortresses and Icebergs offers a very pragmatic judgment of the reality of the transatlantic defence market, based on a sound methodology (including hundreds of interviews with American and European officers, and a precise quantitative analysis of procurement flows). From a European point of view, this effort is all the more welcome as it is hoped that it will contribute to a more realistic understanding in US decisionmaking circles of the role and nature of the European Union, which has sometimes been misunderstood or underestimated. (Valerio Briani)
US-China-EU relations : managing the new world order / edited by Robert S. Ross, Øystein Tunsjø and Zhang Tuosheng. - London and New York : Routledge, 2010. - xiv, 304 p. - (Asian security studies) ISBN 978-0-415-55233-2 ; 978-0-203-86020-5 (ebk)
The book edited by Ross, Tunsjø and Tuosheng explores the relationship between the United States and China as part of a multi-layer triangulation of economic, political, and security interests shaped in conjunction with the European Union. The central argument of the book is that - unlike the Cold War when the power arrangement among the US, the Soviet Union and China was 'strategic' because it threatened the countries' national security interests - the current governance configuration among the US, China and the European Union has to be understood as 'diplomatic' because it is primarily oriented towards the maximization of economic and political goals. Significant divergences in terms of world orientation, capabilities and geostrategic preferences nonetheless exist among the three players. In particular, while the European Union is committed to establishing a multilateral system of governance characterised by soft power and driven mainly by economic interests, the US is eager to defend its 'unipolar moment' against Chinese aspirations for a multipolar distribution of military capabilities and the consolidation of areas of hegemonic influence.
The three powerful actors' relations to one another are also characterised by a wide variety of diverging, and potentially contradictory, short- and long-term goals. China, the book claims, is engaging with European countries individually because it is disappointed by the political weakness currently displayed by the European Union. Nevertheless, its long-term goal is to strengthen the EU as a counterbalance to US supremacy. The US too harbours doubts vis-à-vis both China and the EU. In particular, the US seeks to enhance the EU military contribution to NATO, but resents the possibility of a Euro-centred security alliance. Equally, US strategy towards China is characterised by a combination of engagement and containment policies aimed at maintaining US dominance in the Pacific region while gaining China's cooperation and support on key security issues. Finally, the EU, the weakest military power of the three, still remains a fundamental economic actor. Highly fragmented at the political level, the EU seems able to play a pivotal role both in security and political global affairs through the individual efforts of member states such as Germany, France and the United Kingdom.
Differences notwithstanding, by juxtaposing the neo-realist 'zero-sum game' ideology of the Cold War and the liberal 'constant-sum game' approach of the current power architecture, the book theorizes that 'cooperation' is the strategy most favoured by the three players to attain individual goals and jointly manage collective security risks. Hence, the book illustrates several cases in which cooperation is not only plausible but much sought by the triad in response to the existential threats posed by rogue states or in the implementation of arms control, nuclear proliferation and climate change policies. By emphasizing areas of cooperation over those of competition, the book represents an important intellectual departure from the dominant discourse of an emerging Cold War between the US and China.
And yet, the liberal approach embedded in the book's narrative also presents a few shortcomings. The book's foremost weakness is its lack of a solid theoretical framework. Although extremely informative, the book fails to pinpoint key factors and conditions that could endanger cooperation among the three players in the medium and long term. Furthermore, the prominence assigned to instances of 'soft power' engagement leads to a gross underestimation of the growing competition among the US, China and the European Union for the appropriation of natural resources, the administration of ungoverned areas like the Arctic and the strategic control of emerging markets around the globe.
Regardless of its shortcomings, this book successfully calls into question the accuracy and explanatory capability of the 'securitization' approach that has dominated the recent intellectual debate on China-US relations, particularly within American academia. It can only be hoped that this edited volume will encourage many International Relations scholars to engage in more nuanced, theoretically sophisticated and policy-centred analysis of the complex world of the 21st century. (Francesca Giovannini)
EU and its Members
Why Europe fears its neighbors / Fabrizio Tassinari. - Santa Barbara ; Denver ; Oxford : Praeger Security International, c2009. - 143 p. - ISBN 978-0-313-35772-5 ; 978-0-313-35773-2 (ebk)
Why Europe fears its neighbors provides deep and unconventional insight into the European Union's neighbourhood policy and identity. Europe's neighbours, from the Balkans to Turkey, from North Africa to Russia, represent a challenge to the future of the European Union. Yet Tassinari argues that the European foreign/neighborhood policy clearly reflects an internal situation characterised by institutional inefficiency, lack of identity and fear of diversity. Peripheral regions are therefore perceived as threats to European cohesion and security and are accused of importing serious problems such as crime, terrorism, energy shortages and a multiculturalism too far from 'European values'.
As a consequence, the EU has developed an incoherent foreign policy aimed at freezing, rather than solving, the problems along its borders. According to the author, this is evident in all the EU's neighborhood policies; from the controversial migration arrangements in the Mediterranean basin to the energy issues with Russia, from the incapacity to deal with the Balkan region to the disarray over the Turkish membership. All these key issues risk being fatal to the future of the EU due to the fragmentation among member states.
Tassinari suggests that the best solution to avoid the EU fragmentation would be to start a process of gradual integration with its neighbours, though differentiated in terms of implementation. This means pushing the 'reset button', completely redefining the policy and goals the EU has hitherto pursued toward its neighbours. This is the focal point of Tassinari's analysis and what gives the book an interesting, as well as unconventional, perspective on the EU's policy options in the years to come.
The book is well organised into chapters that deal with either single states (e.g. Russia and Turkey) or regions (e.g. the Balkans, the Caucasus, the Mediterranean), which help the reader grasp the different issues at stake. The comprehensible language makes the book accessible not only to scholars looking for an out-of-line opinion, but also to a more general readership that wants a critical explanation of EU foreign policy. However, the fiction-like style of writing does not seem appropriate to the topic, with argumentations sometimes based more on subjective evaluations than on empirical data. (Edoardo Camilli)
Italy today : the sick man of Europe / edited by Andrea Mammone and Giuseppe A. Veltri. - London and New York : Routledge, 2010. - xvii, 257 p. - ISBN 978-0-415-56159-4 ; 978-0-415-56160-0 (pbk) ; 978-0-203-85963-6 (ebk)
It is now 17 years since Silvio Berlusconi, the media tycoon, entered the political stage at the head of Italy's centre-right coalition, marking the beginning of a new phase in Italy's republican history. Throughout this period, Berlusconi has dominated the political debate, not only when in power - he is currently in his third non-consecutive spell as prime minister - but also as leader of the opposition. A man who has built his legendary fortune on commercial TV, Berlusconi has presided over a spectacular personalisation of both politics and policies. He has blurred the borders between private and public life, media appearance and reality, and the interests of the country and his own. With his highly publicised relationship with leaders of foreign powers - namely former US President George W. Bush and Russia's PrimeMinister Vladimir Putin (not to mention Libya'sMuammarQhadafi) - he has managed to turn even foreign policy, traditionally the field of the impersonal national interest, into a stage for political theatre. Not surprisingly, international public opinion has become accustomed to dovetailing Italy with the image projected by its mercurial prime minister.
The effort undertaken by the two editors of this collective volume, Andrea Mammone and Giuseppe A. Veltri, to go beyond Berlusconi's Italy in search of the real country is therefore both welcome and commendable. In eighteen chapters divided into five parts dedicated to the macro-areas of politics, history, immigration, organised crime, and the economy, this volume attempts to de-construct old and new stereotypes and reflect the reality of a troubled country.
The book draws a disheartening picture: political parties unable to understand the needs and mood of the country and creeping increasingly towards a surreal selfreferentiality; a cultural milieu that has yet to transform historical tragedies such as Fascism and the period of terrorism in the 1970s into truly collective experiences; a society too prone to justify exclusion and discrimination of immigrants and gypsies; criminal organisations that rival with and often prevail over the state for control of large chunks of Italy's territory; and a labour and entrepreneurial world that is struggling to cope with international competition. While not all chapters draw convincing conclusions, the volume is an enlightening read (the section on the economy deserves special praise). And yet, the picture is incomplete. With their commendable intent to describe Italy as far more than Berlusconi's country, the editors have failed to undertake the effort that this reader would have appreciated the most: an investigation of the link between the 'real Italy' the volume describes and the phenomenon that has most deeply characterised its recent history - Berlusconi's dominance of public life. Lacking this, the title of Italy today is to some extent misleading. (Riccardo Alcaro)