Contributions were received from Marco Nozzoli, Nicoletta Pirozzi, Giulio Raffa, Federico Romero, Rosa Rosanelli and Nicolò Sartori.
Dopo gli imperi : l'integrazione europea nello scontro Nord-Sud / Giuliano Garavini ; prefazione di Antonio Varsori ; postfazione di Ivan T. Berend. - Firenze : Le Monnier, c2009. - xiii, 359 p. - (Quaderni di storia). - ISBN 978-88-00-20921-2
Against the background of the long economic and political transition of the seventies, this broad, articulated historical study retraces the various attempts made to connect the redefinition of Western Europe's place in the world and of European integration itself with the global "cooperative transformation of the economy" (5), aimed at establishing an effective North-South dialogue and at channelling market dynamics towards greater equality among and within nations.
According to Garavini, the cultural and social tide generated by the upheaval of 1968 (304), expressing a more egalitarian and cooperative philosophy, backed a post-imperial trend to decouple Europe from the United States and place it at the centre of a new development project agreed with the Third World. This revealed itself in the protagonism of new actors - from trade unions to NGOs and even some national governments - that shaped the "social democratic decade" (149) which culminated in 1972-75. In fact, the idea of the New Economic Order set forward by the Third World intertwined with attempts in Europe, particularly in France, to react to the monetary and oil disorders with new cooperative architectures that would link the development of the South with the economy of Western Europe.
With the passing of that moment of fluidity and, perhaps, of possibility, the social democratic impulse came up against the economic and political rise of neoconservatism in the second half of the decade, which embodied and supported the efforts of the United States to emerge from the crisis of its previous hegemonic model and return to pre-eminence. The tide ebbed, therefore, after 1979 when the second oil shock and the liberist assertion of high interest rates re-established a new American hegemony in a dynamic of market globalisation. In the eighties, the successive steps towards European integration and the Maastricht Treaty were oriented by this new scenario and the imperative of competitive modernisation.
One could of course object to the basic assumption of a Western Europe with an ideally social democratic profile in the sixties or point out the inconsistencies and partiality of the transformative drives that emerged during the long upheaval. One could legitimately recall that the constant centrality of the bipolar rivalry acted as a conditioning factor in the restructuring of both cooperative and competitive dynamics between the United States and Europe. And that the hypothetical consequences, both economic and socio-political, of a possible North-South cooperative pact are debatable. But it is the clear resoluteness of these assumptions that allows Garavini to adventure into his dense and stimulating analysis and rethink the complex international events of the sixties from new points of view, framing Europe's course in the much broader and more mobile contexts that it had to deal with.
Going over projects that failed and alternatives that were not taken is always an insidious operation because of the intrinsic difficulty in weighing the actual relevance of things that did not happen, but it does also make it possible at times, such as in this case, to shed some light on causal links and open up new analytical perspectives. (Federico Romero, also in Italian)
A little war that shook the world : Georgia, Russia, and the future of the West / Ronald D. Asmus. - New York : Palgrave MacMillan, 2010. - xi, 254 p. - ISBN 978-0-230-61773-5
The Russo-Georgian war of August 2008 was a little war that shook the world. The West was convinced that a war in Europe had become a nightmare of the past; it called into question the West's relationship with Russia. Furthermore, this war violated several fundamental principles of the new European security order and posed numerous questions about the future. This is the main argument of Ronald Asmus' book. The author, Senior Transatlantic Fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the United States, served in the early 1990s and subsequently as a top aide to Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and to Deputy Secretary Strobe Talbott, responsible for European security issues. Analysing the last European crisis, the author is strongly persuaded that the question of the status of Abkhazia and South Ossetia were only the superficial causes of this war; the real reason was the conflict between Russia and Georgia over Tbilisi's desire to create a strong relationship with and became part of the Western world. This war was fought because Georgia wanted to guarantee its national security by entering NATO, and eventually the European Union, and Moscow was determined to prevent that from happening and keep Georgia in its sphere of influence. Consequently, in the author's view, the war was fought directly against Georgia and indirectly against the West.
His arguments can be summarised in five main theses. First, the fundamental cause of the crisis was geopolitical, and was not linked to other issues like the future status of the two separatist provinces, or the respect of minority rights or territory. Indeed, the greatest danger from Moscow's point of view were the consequences that Georgia's inclination toward the West could have in the wider South Caucasus region. The experience of democratic elections in contrast to a leadership nominated and imposed by the oligarchy in power represented a problem from the Russian perspective. The second argument presented is that Georgia made mistakes before the war that in a way caused it. President Saakashvili in effect started the war, for three main reasons. First, he felt an imminent risk of ethnic cleaning; second, he felt he could lose control of South Ossetia and Abkhazia and, finally, he was profoundly convinced that if he did not move, he would lose political prestige. But he did not realise that the Georgian army was not prepared to face the Russian army, successor of the Red Army. The third thesis is that the system set up before the conflict to avoid crises was inadequate. This was a strategic failure of the West because the peace process was never transformed into a system that could produce a serious peace and was instead used by Russia to pursue its aims. The author's second to last thesis refers to the differences in positions held by Georgia and Russia. For example, Moscow considered Georgia's recognition of Kosovo's independence, in spite of numerous warnings, a dangerous precedent. Finally, the book argues that the Russo- Georgian war underscores the need for a rethinking of the West's strategy toward Russia and the European neighbourhood. In fact, it altered various pillars on which Western policy of the last fifteen years was based and led to the enlargement of the European Union and NATO. The crisis was important in signalling that a profound reconsideration of the strategy pursued by Western countries towards the region and so strongly opposed by the Russian government is required. This book is fundamental for understanding the crisis in Georgia in the post-Cold War scenario and evaluating its consequences and how they should be handled. (Marco Nozzoli)
Multilateral security and ESDP operations / edited by Fulvio Attinà and Daniela Irrera. - Farnham ; Burlington : Ashgate, c2010. - xviii, 236 p. - ISBN 978-1-4094-0707-2 ; 978-1-4094-0708-9 (ebk)
Rather than Multilateral security and ESDP operations, the title of this book should be Minilateral security and ESDP operations as it focuses on how peace missions have changed in the context of the radical transformations in global security and international cooperation. In the last decades, the number of peace operations led by the United Nations has increased steadily. Yet, while the UN continues to be the central actor in multilateral interventions, the growth of ‘minilateralism' and the increasing participation of regional organisations in multilateral security is marking a decisive change in global security governance. A new practice in world policy, minilateral operations and ad hoc coalitions represent a pragmatic solution at a time when the West's confidence in UN capacity is relatively low. The progressive decentralisation in favour of regional international organisations allows for better control of costs and responsibilities. Recalling the basic literature on global security and conflict management, the authors analyse the changing principles of the multilateral security system, highlighting how intervention remains coherent with the features of the contemporary world system.
The end of the Cold War and the collapse of the USSR caused a destabilising increase in the number of domestic and international conflicts. Under the pressure of global interdependence, international and domestic problems have become a threat not only for neighbouring countries, but also for the rest of the world, entailing a sort of ‘responsibility to protect' for global political institutions. This has led to a ‘dilemma of intervention': is humanitarian intervention legitimate in such a context? Can mass media campaigns endorsing solidarity affect public opinion about peace operations, representing them as the best and only way to interrupt domestic violence and halt serious violations of human rights? How has the international ‘actorness' of NGOs evolved? The books aims at answering these questions, focusing on the contribution of the EU, which has chosen multilateralism as the cornerstone of its international action and has become the UN's best partner. The growing number of ESDP operations is seen as a hard political choice of EU policymakers to go it alone and give the EU an autonomous and effective role in multilateral security. The EU states' inclination to participate actively in peace operations is examined, focusing especially on France, Italy, Spain and Sweden (‘the four'). The accent is put on the balance between egoistic and altruistic motives and the varying influence of "propensity-relevant factors" like the democratic status and culture of the country, economic wealth, population, size of the army and international position.
A stimulating book and a useful tool for students and scholars dealing with security and defence, it challenges the general trend of considering the West's operations as a whole. Thus, it highlights the peculiarities of ESDP operations through a detailed empirical analysis of several case studies, ranging from the recent experiences in East Timor and the Gaza Strip to the EU Althea mission in Bosnia and the AMIS mission, led by the African Union, in Darfur. These case studies emphasize that ESDP has proved a very useful tool for European diplomacy. The continuous employment of common actions during the last decades has contributed to raising the EU's international image as a fundamental actor in regional peace operations and a ‘regional power'. In spite of internal constraints, the EU has demonstrated good capabilities in civilian and military crisis management and will continue to play a major role in peacekeeping and peace-building operations. (Rosa Rosanelli)
The practice of the United Nations in combating terrorism from 1946 to 2008 : questions of legality and legitimacy / Bibi van Ginkel. - Antwerp [etc.] : Intersentia, c2010. - xvi, 455 p. - (School of Human Rights Research series ; 40). - ISBN 978-94-000-0076-6
Over the last twenty years, the credibility of the United Nations (UN) in successfully tackling contemporary threats has been harshly challenged by public opinion, researchers, governments and politicians alike. After 11 September in particular, a new era started and an unprecedented ‘war on terror' was launched causing significant changes within the international community, further weakening the UN's authority. For these reasons, the time has come to critically assess whether or not the UN has been and still can be an ‘effective' actor in dealing with terrorism. The book is a well-conceived piece of research. Although pools of scholarly ink have already been spilled on this matter, Bibi van Ginkel for the first time provides a comprehensive analysis of the motivations, the characteristics and the outcomes of some 130 resolutions adopted by the UN in a period of over fifty years. The UN has been chosen by the author since, in her opinion, this organisation deserves to be considered the most appropriate for states to agree on how to address the threats posed by terrorism.
The study seeks to assess the practice of the General Assembly (GA) and the Security Council (SC), taking into account their powers, their limits and their potential, in order to answer the question whether and how these institutional bodies have contributed to combating terrorism. Van Ginkel argues that policies which ‘best' tackle terrorism must be ‘effective' and ‘comprehensive' at the same time. ‘Effectiveness' relies mainly on the level of compliance and political commitment ensured by individual states in implementing the adopted measures. To be ‘comprehensive', on the other hand, policies must address not only security concerns but also the root causes of terrorism, a multi-faceted phenomenon.
In addressing the practice of the GA, the author analysed 80 resolutions and classified them according to their impact on ten aspects that set up a ‘comprehensive' approach, namely security issues, human rights, democratisation, ending occupation, development of international law, fighting international crime, disarmament/weapons related issues, health issues and coordination. She classified 50 resolutions according to their legal basis, topic, motivation and qualification (e.g. resolutions adopted after specific terrorist attacks, resolutions ordering targeted sanctions against government officials or individuals and entities, etc.). She then goes on to provide an analytical framework for assessing the impact and effectiveness of UN resolutions by evaluating both their ‘legality' and their ‘legitimacy'. In an unprecedented approach - an ‘adventure' in the author's words - van Ginkel applies the model elaborated by Thomas Franck for measuring the degree of legitimacy of a rule by adopting four specific indicators, namely ‘determinacy', ‘symbolic validation', ‘coherence' and ‘adherence'.
In her conclusions, the author does not offer ‘black or white' answers but, very interestingly, seeks to offer ‘scientific' parameters that indicate which factors can strengthen legitimacy (e.g. the instruments that improve coordination and determinacy, such as the UN Global Counter- Terrorism Strategy) and by contrast, those that can lead to its weakening (e.g. some consequences of the ‘stretching' of powers of the SC which has increasingly been acting as a quasi-legislative or quasi-judicial organ after 9/11).
Not surprisingly, she finds that there is room for improvement for the UN. In summary, van Ginkel believes that for the UN to become more effective, it needs to enhance four groups of factors that significantly influence the general outcome of any measure: definition of the scope, the motivation of necessity and purpose, protection of the principles of human rights and fair trial and the overall organisation of the activities undertaken by the UN.
The book is well structured and has a series of well-conceived tables on resolutions, cases, treaties and other documents and a selected bibliography that provides added value to the study. In conclusion, it offers significant food for thought for policymakers and researchers alike. (Giulio Raffa)
Pursuing effective multilateralisms : the European Union, international organisations and the politics of decision making / Robert Kissack. - Basingstoke and New York : Palgrave MacMillan, 2010. - xii, 218 p. - (Palgrave studies in European Union politics). - ISBN 978-1-4039-9511-7 ; 978-1-4039-9512-4 (pbk)
This book deals with the theory and praxis of multilateralism, as it emerges from the interaction between the European Union (EU) and multilateral organisations. In particular, the author focuses his analysis on the concept of ‘effective multilateralism', proclaimed as the major goal of the EU's external action in the 2003 European Security Strategy.
As clearly stated in the first chapter, Kissack's work is built on Ruggie's definition of multilateralism, conceived as an "institutional form which coordinated relations between three or more states" (quantitative element) and is based on generalised organising principles, namely "indivisibility" and "diffuse reciprocity" (qualitative elements). He also argues that effective multilateralism is a two-way street between the European Union and multilateral organisations. Therefore, in assessing the EU's capacity to pursue it, a distinction must be made between "effectiveness in promoting the interests of the EU", on the one hand, and "effectiveness in promoting the interests of a given multilateral organisation", on the other.
In line with this assumption, the book contains an assessment of the EU's performance in eight multilateral endeavours - United Nations General Assembly, United Nations Security Council, United Nations Commission on Human Rights, Human Rights Council, International Monetary Fund, International Labour Organisation, Food and Agriculture Organisation, World Trade Organisation - which are characterised by different decision-making procedures. The three core chapters of the volume are dedicated, respectively, to case studies in three types of multilateral environments: majoritarian, consensus and privilege-based systems. The fifth chapter is dedicated to the role of argumentation, persuasion and rhetoric in all three idealtype decision-making processes, as well as the issue of legitimacy. In the concluding chapter, the author evaluates the ability of the EU to promote effective multilateralism through a two-by-two matrix detailing the winners and the losers of various scenarios in the EU-multilateral organisation relationship. The assessment shows that there are not always natural synergies between the goals of the two: while some EU policies can be detrimental to multilateral organisations, in some cases the interests of a multilateral organisation can be furthered even when the EU has lost out. The analysis is also used to answer questions about heterogeneity in the multilateral system, the nature of the EU's actorness in multilateral institutions and the role of the United States.
Compared to other recent works on the same subject, this book has the advantage of drawing its analysis from a clearly defined theoretical approach to the issue and investigating its implications in different types of multilateral environments. At the same time, more could have followed in terms of policy recommendations for the EU and drivers for future research. (Nicoletta Pirozzi)
The science of war : defense budgeting, military technology, logistics, and combat outcomes / Michael E. O'Hanlon. - Princeton and Oxford : Princeton University Press ; in association with the Brookings Institution, c2009. - vii, 266 p. - ISBN 978-0-691-13702-5 ; 978-1-4008-3093-0 (ebk)
Can war really be considered a science, and thus approached and investigated through scrupulous quantitative analytical techniques? In The science of war, Michael O'Hanlon answers these epistemological questions affirmatively, assuming that scientific methods represent essential tools in carrying out contemporary defence and military analyses. At the same time, the author recognises some of the limits that still characterise scientific approaches to defence analysis, stressing nonetheless the importance of continued development and improvement of analytical methods in order to provide decision-makers with reliable tools for understanding and shaping sensitive defence policies.
The book addresses four key topics in the US contemporary defence debate: defence budget and resources allocation; modelling combat and sizing forces; logistics and overseas bases; technical issues. O'Hanlon's main goal is not to discuss these matters in terms of current policies, but to identify and evaluate the methods of defence analysis applicable to them.
The first chapter focuses on the US defence budget, discussing different budgeting methods available for allocating resources to military forces, operations and programs. After a brief presentation of the US budget's categories and characteristics, the author introduces two different approaches to understanding defence budgeting and evaluate the costs of military commitments. On the one hand, there is Kaufmann's top-down method which breaks the overall US defence budget down according to the main combat force structure and assigns costs to the different budget categories identified, finally giving the costs of individual combat units. On the other hand, there is the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) bottom-up scheme which directly estimates costs-per-unit, deriving them from the main characteristics of each unit such as people, equipment and training.
In the second part of the book, the author introduces modelling combat and sizing forces techniques. These procedures, aimed at estimating the force packages needed to prevail in conflicts, are essential for military planning activities and could eventually influence governments' decisions to engage in warfare. Different models of combat are analysed in the chapter, from Lanchester's basic equations on direct and indirect fire, to complex models used to predict air-ground combat, urban and infantry warfare, amphibious assaults, nuclear exchanges, and counterinsurgency and stabilisation missions.
Military logistics, addressed in chapter three, is often underestimated when dealing with current warfare. Recognising the relevance of this topic for the proper functioning of the US armed forces and the success of their operations abroad, the author provides quantitative tools to evaluate the management of transportation capabilities, overseas military bases, and support assets. The book concludes with an overview of some key areas of technology for defence and warfare activities, such as sensors, communication systems, propulsion technologies and robotics, explosive and kinetic weaponry. Without going into too much technical detail, but also without providing scrupulous quantitative methods to address the topic (as largely done in the previous sections of the book), Chapter Four questions the effectiveness of the current Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA) and then discusses and evaluates the state of the art in key sectors such as satellites, missile defence and nuclear weapons.
O'Hanlon's efforts to systemise and rationalise defence and warfare matters are remarkable. The tools provided in the book seem essential for empowering decisionmaking capacity in the military domain. As correctly stressed by the author himself, further efforts are needed to develop, improve and refine defence and military analysis methods. Nevertheless, whether or not warfare is considered a science, the military analytical thinking developed in The science of war is a key starting point for any comprehensive effort to address defence and warfare matters. (Nicolò Sartori)