Contributions were received from Carlo Andrea d'Addetta, Claudia Astarita, Aldo Liga and Laura Siddi.
EU foreign policy and crisis management operations : power, purpose and domestic politics / Benjamin Pohl. - London ; New York : Routledge, 2014. - xiii, 215 p. - (Routledge studies in European security and strategy). - ISBN 978-0-415-71266-8 ; 978-1-315-88245-1 (pbk)
Based on a dissertation that won the first EDA-Egmont Institute PhD Prize in Defence, Security and Strategy, this book aims to provide an innovative perspective and a deeper understanding of the drivers underlying Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) crisis management operations.
The volume begins by clarifying both its aims and its structure. After mentioning the issues addressed, the approach chosen for the analysis is outlined, providing a synthetic but accurate preview of the forthcoming chapters.
Inspired by the idea that CSDP actions constitute a better indication of the policy's underlying purpose than the political rhetoric surrounding it, the author shifts the focus of analysis from the abstract intentions represented by CSDP goals to the tangible results pursued by the EU governments while undertaking collective intervention in foreign crises.
The author first develops a theoretical framework comprising four classes of potential purposes that may have driven national authorities in determining their respective positions. Relying on competing theoretical explanations indirectly drawn from IR theories, they are shown as possible alternative motives, neither comprehensive nor mutually exclusive, for the actions taken by the EU countries.
Subsequently, an historical and institutional overview of the context within which the CSDP has come to be embedded is followed by a description of the criteria that inspired the research. First of all, the author explains the reasons for the systematic comparison of British, French and German positions, taken to be representative of the divergent approaches distinguishing European foreign policy. Attention is mainly focused on three dimensions: geostrategic proximity to the US, the inclination to project military force 'out of area' and the quest for European integration in the realm of foreign affairs and defence. A description of the method used to select the four case studies follows, concluding with a discussion of the conceptual and methodological issues raised by the research.
Examining the evidence that the chosen operations present in terms of diplomatic history, objectives, mandates and resources, Chapters 4 to 7 subsequently assess the empirical plausibility of the four putative explanations previously elaborated in Chapter 2, dissecting CSDP engagement in Bosnia Herzegovina, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Chad. Moving from a description of the regional situation at the time of the intervention, each chapter reconstructs the decision-making process and the changing positions of the most relevant actors, identifying the predominant drivers behind each operation.
The two final chapters compare the findings: Chapter 8 analyses the objectives pursued by the three key actors in the case studies, reconnecting the position of each to the broader context of its specific foreign policy tradition; Chapter 9 concludes with a discussion of the relevance of the predictions and an assessment of the contribution the research makes to identifying the drivers of CSDP operations.
In conclusion, although the simple exposition and the distinct progression of the sections throughout the book may appear rather didactical, the innovative perspective chosen, together with the comprehensive approach that carefully balances theoretical, historical and political analyses, make this work stimulating reading. It can only be recommended to all students in international relations and European studies seeking a reliable instrument for achieving a deeper understanding of the CSDP framework. (Carlo Andrea d'Addetta)
The European Union and military conflict management : defining, evaluating and achieving success / Annemarie Peen Rodt. - London ; New York : Routledge, 2014. - xvi, 175 p. - (Security and strategy). - ISBN 978-0-415-71478-5 ; 978-1-315-84886-0 (pbk)
In the last decade, the European Union started to act as a conflict manager, launching five military operations (within the framework of its Common Security and Defence Policy, CSDP) in Europe and Africa: Concordia (Macedonia), Artemis (Democratic Republic of Congo), EUFOR DR Congo, EUFOR Chad/Central African Republic and Althea (Bosnia and Herzegovina). In this book, Annemarie Peen Rodt, Associate Professor at Roskilde University, offers an accurate evaluation of an often misconceived issue, the European way of managing violent conflicts, preventing the continuation, diffusion, escalation and intensification of hostilities. Precisely, the book pivots around the concept of "success", singled out as the key to properly understanding and predicting the impact and possible development of EU military conflict management and, subsequently, enhancing the global weight of the Union. This work, which belongs to the Security and Governance Series edited by Routledge, represents the completion of an exhaustive study, often motivated by personal experiences, and integrates the author's PhD thesis, focused on CSDP military conflict management operations between 2003 and 2009.
The author makes a qualitative assessment of the Union's success in conflict management using an analytical framework that identifies four "success criteria" and some corresponding indicators (Chapter 2-3) that include both internal (Chapter 4) and external dimensions (Chapter 5) of success: internal goal attainment and internal appropriateness (from the perspective of the EU as intervener), external goal attainment and external appropriateness during the operation's deployment (from the point of view of the overall purpose of military conflict management according to the just war theory). These criteria are flanked by the emphasis placed on the conditions for success, such as the role of the different member states and European institutions and of domestic, regional and international actors (Chapters 6 and 7).
A comparative approach allows for analysis of the theoretical link between success and conditions for success. Considering the internal dimension, the five operations can be considered successful, despite the partial weakness of the decision-making and force generation processes. Furthermore, Peen Rodt shows the positive correlation between high levels of EU support (through commitment and capabilities) and higher chance of operational success. As for the external dimension, the results seem to be more ambivalent, both in terms of goal attainment and appropriateness: while the Macedonian and Bosnian conflicts were successfully managed, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Chad and the Central African Republic the situation continues to be unstable and violence has even intensified. If not direct support, at least a lack of direct obstruction at the domestic, regional and international levels is necessary to achieve success.
Her systematic and comprehensive way of looking at the matter is one of the main positive features of Peen Rodt's book. She is able to set this debate in the wider field of conflict regulation and elaborates a flexible structure to integrate all aspects. This flexibility is also evident in the internal structure of every chapter: the author presents the five case studies in depth, alternating chronological and geographical order. Particular noteworthy is that her rich theoretical framework is rigorously deduced from academic scholarship. This accuracy (particularly evident in the case studies) and the innovative capacity to define and evaluate success increase the book's authoritativeness. Nevertheless, the fact that it is focused on very recent phenomena (and in one case, on an ongoing operation) makes Peen Rodt's effort very ambitious. One minor flaw does seem undeniable: the excessive role attributed to some minor incidents involving EU officers in the chapters that evaluate operations in Congo and Macedonia.
Although the book was certainly conceived for academic readers, members of the armed forces and practitioners, it could well be addressed to a general public: the methodological issues are presented in a very straightforward and concise way, illuminating the very narrow theme. Overall, the book strengthens a general awareness of EU military conflict management, and is bound to impact on future EU military operational experiences within the CSDP. (Aldo Liga)
The Obama administration's nuclear weapon strategy : the promises of Prague / Aiden Warren. - London and New York : Routledge, 2013. - xiii, 322 p. - (Routledge studies in US foreign policy). - ISBN 978-0-415-53604-2 ; 978-0-203-79631-3 (ebk)
In terms of nuclear weapons strategy, the election of Barack Obama as president of the United States in 2008 brought with it expectations of change. Marking what appeared to be a radical shift from the posture of his predecessor, Obama already went in the opposite direction from Bush during his election campaign, advocating nuclear disarmament. Whether and how he has been able to come close to achieving such an audacious goal is the object of this monograph by Aiden Warren, a lecturer at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in Australia.
The book provides a detailed analysis and assessment of Obama's nuclear strategy during the four years of his first term as US president. Warren addresses the topic by examining both international agreements and the US' relationship with key "nuclear active" states. Accordingly, the text is divided into two sections: one looking into specific policies and treaties and one focusing on the approach adopted towards states whose nuclear posture is perceived as "challenging" to different degrees.
The premise of Warren's analysis is the vision set forth by the newly elected Obama in his first foreign policy speech in Prague on 5 April 2009. On that occasion, Obama committed himself to a series of actions aimed at the "global zero", a world without nuclear weapons. The first step towards attainment of that objective was the Nuclear Posture Review, which included for the first time the goal of eliminating nuclear weapons. It was followed by promotion of a series of nuclear summits and treaties, including the New START Treaty, the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), the Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty and other more or less effective initiatives. Warren goes through all of them in the first chapters and ultimately notes that, despite the strong emphasis Obama put on the issue, very little substantial progress was made towards fulfilment of his Prague commitments.
He then moves on to see how Obama tackled the nuclear issue and the multiple security threats it implies - including the one represented by the prospect of nuclear terrorism - in relations with worrisome states like Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, India, China and Israel. In most instances, the President's approach to these states, interestingly defined as "strategic patience" in the case of North Korea, resulted in a combination of compromise, diplomacy and use of sanctions, a tactic that may or may not bear fruit in the time ahead.
Warren appears cautiously hopeful about what he considers a work-in-progress that could be improved during Obama's second mandate, but is generally critical of the outcomes of the President's foreign policy. The bold statements he made in Prague and throughout the election campaign have not been adequately translated into practice. His actions have often been too cautious and produced transitional effects, rather than transformational changes. This has also been due to strategic considerations and domestic constraints (as is still the case with the non-ratification of the CTBT, which Obama supports). The limited timeframe examined in the text leaves room to wonder whether and how the situation might change in the long run and in light of current events. Yet, Warren's analysis remains a useful source of information and can be a good basis for further discussion of Obama's foreign policy throughout his two mandates.
The author is able to convey a wide range of notions in a clear and well-structured manner. The division of the book in two parts, with the second part dealing with specific states, adds value to the analysis, in that it makes it possible to move beyond the technicalities of international agreements to see how states' interests influence the extent to which the same agreements are/are not pursued and respected. Far from merely being a presentation of Obama's nuclear stance, the book presents the reader with a comprehensive overview of the multiple aspects of nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament. Overall, it provides a thorough account of facts and data that make it recommendable to scholars of international relations, international security and US foreign policy. (Laura Siddi)
Sino-Japanese relations after the cold war : two tigers sharing a mountain / Michael Yahuda. - London and New York : Routledge, 2014. - x, 146 p. - (Routledge studies in extremism and democracy ; 20). - ISBN 978-0-415-84307-2 ; 978-0-415-84308-9 (pbk) ; 978-0-203-74029-3 (ebk)
How can two tigers learn to share the same mountain? This is the key question Professor Michael Yahuda tries to answer his brilliant book. Among its strengths are its historic approach, which proves very useful for understanding the evolution of China-Japan relations, and its attempt to cover all areas (such as economy, international institutions, and strategic fora) in which the two countries interact.
The book argues that "although a remorselessly rising China is challenging Japan's territorial integrity by its use of force in pursuit of its claims in the East China Sea and it is threatening to reduce Japan's standing to a secondary position, the prospects for major military conflict are limited" (1). This is happening because China cannot pay the price of a breakdown of its economic interdependence with Japan, nor can it compete with or challenge Japan's alliance with the United States.
Beyond decoding the evolution of contemporary China-Japan relations, Yahuda's book clearly explains how complex and multi-dimensional they are. Identity, history, nationalism and leadership styles are as important as politics, economic interdependence and strategic priorities for understanding how Beijing and Tokyo interact. After realising that no IR theory can describe such a complex relationship appropriately, elements of constructivism, liberal institutionalism and realism are introduced to clarify the way in which these two countries relate to one another.
The book disputes a lot of simplistic ideas and apparently solid arguments. Among them, the firm belief that China's animosity towards Japan is based on the historical legacy of the latter's aggression in the first half of the twentieth century. What Yahuda demonstrates is that China's grudge and its subsequent aggressiveness are a consequence of a deep change in its domestic identity policy rather than any consolidated sense of grievance.
He shows that Chinese leaders have played a significant role in shaping historical legacies in a way that fits their priorities. In particular, it is argued that Sino-Japanese relations entered one of their most troubled phases in the 1980s, when the strategic Soviet glue that was binding the two countries together lost its cohesive force. At the same time, other troublesome dimensions of the relationship emerged, such as a "new stirring of nationalism on both sides", confirming that "even before the end of the Cold War many of these issues of identity that were to bedevil their relationship in the 1990s and early part of the twenty-first were already apparent" (21). Internationally, China was perceived as the rising and Japan the declining power. In domestic affairs, China became more nationalistic "in response to government campaigns to foster a new sense of national identity centred on Communist Party rule" (31), the main effect of which was to "[cast] Japan as the ultimate symbol of foreign aggression. […] Japan, for its part, was seeking to come to terms with the consequences of the bursting of the economic bubble, which undermined popular faith in governance" (31). In this context, public opinion also played an important and independent role in the deterioration of the Sino-Japanese relationship.
It is interesting to note that when, in the late 1990s, China started engaging with the US and integrating with the international economy, its approach towards Japan did not change. On the contrary, the distrust between the two became even more evident, with both countries' leaders apparently uninterested in bridging this dangerous divide. According to the author, both countries were "adversely affected by a security dilemma by which defensive measures by the one were perceived as offensive by the others" (34).
This attitude has not changed in the twenty-first century, although it has at times been mitigated by the growing interdependence of the two economies. At the same time, economic well-being has become one of the keys of political and social success, therefore nobody can afford to neglect it, China and Japan included. However, what is important to understand is the real political impact of economic interdependence. "In other words, does the closer engagement of the two economies and societies contribute to increasing mutual understanding and better relations between these two very different societies and economies, or to the contrary, drive them further apart?" (65).
Generally speaking, it is argued that the risk of war remains low as Chinese leaders are aware that "the potential disruption of the economy that would follow open warfare with Japan could well undermine Communist Party rule" (101). However, the author also recognises that "low-key military incidents fired by nationalism, and driven by local politics in which leaders cannot afford to appear weak in handling disputes with neighbours" could likely happen, stressing that "these relatively minor points of conflicts could overwhelm the capacities of leaders in managing the deeper strategic issues between China and Japan that are crucial for maintaining relative regional stability" (101). (Claudia Astarita, also in Italian).