Contributors to this section include Emiliano Alessandri, Alessandra Bertino, Maritza Cricorian, Donatella Cugliandro, Germano Dottori, Lucio Martino, Nicoletta Pirozzi, Rosa Rosanelli and Benedetta Voltolini.
Europae : quadrimestrale di affari europei = Quarterly European Affairs [sic]. - N.1 (2008). - Soveria Mannelli : Rubbettino, 2008. - ISSN 1974-2711
New on the European studies horizon, this journal, founded jointly by the Fondazione Rubbettino and the Fondazione Collegio Europeo in Parma, aims to relaunch the European debate in Italy with a view to promoting European integration. It intends to do this with contributions from highly qualified authors, a standard the first issue certainly meets. The journal has a three-part structure: the first part is dedicated to general op-ed pieces; the second is more analytical; the third part contains regular columns monitoring various issues. The abstracts of the main articles are presented at the end of the volume. In addition to Italian, the journal publishes articles in English and French. A few editorial incongruencies will surely be ironed out in subsequent issues.
The first issue is devoted to recent developments in the European integration process. In the first section, an article by Cosimo Risi examines the new Union for the Mediterranean, while Romano Prodi considers the political prospects for Europe after the negative outcome of the Irish referendum.
Most of the second part analyses the Lisbon Treaty: its genesis; new norms; variations with respect to the Constitutional Treaty and the existing treaties; its renewal of the European integration process (R. Cangelosi, A. Duff, A. Ponzano); its possible influence on EU external action (G. Benim), particularly the European Neighbourhood Policy (R. Aliboni), and the commitments and difficulties the EU will have to tackle in the future (G. Lenzi). The approach is often critical, but always stimulating.
Rather original and innovative, the third part consists of a number of regular columns monitoring various aspects of Europe's cultural and political life: the institutions (in this issue: the problems of internal and external communication, and protection of civil rights); the legislative process (instruments implemented), international relations events, energy and the environment, science and technology (points of excellence and recent EU contributions to global knowledge and innovation), economy and finance (reform of the European budget), agricultural and food policies, intellectual property and public services, and culture and entertainment (with two poems, by Pasolini and the editor of the column, B. Luzzi). The last element is the most intriguing part of the entire editorial adventure: it confirms the penetration of purely cultural subjects into domains that have till now been the exclusive reserve of political science. (Maritza Cricorian)
Italy in the European Union : redefining national interest in a compound polity / edited by Sergio Fabbrini and Simona Piattoni. - Lanham [etc.] : Rowman & Littlefield, c2008. - xiii, 292 p. - ISBN 978-0-7425-5565-5; 978-0-7425-5566-2 (pbk)
The increasing role played by the EU in several policy areas and the decisions made at the EU level that impact national constituencies, lead member states to try to exert influence on EU policy-making. This makes the study of the relationship between the EU and each member state an issue of increasing academic interest, with scholars trying to understand and assess the performance of member states at the EU level. However, the majority of contributions focus on general descriptions of member states' performances or examine only France, Germany and the United Kingdom, the three largest states. Italy's role in the EU is not only an underdeveloped field of research, but is also mainly discussed using the giant/pygmy metaphor, with texts pointing out that Italy is able to play only a marginal role in EU policymaking.
This volume, featuring the contributions of several Italian experts, aims to fill this gap and to challenge the above-mentioned metaphor by proposing a more sophisticated theoretical framework for assessing Italy's performance at the European level. The book is partly based on articles that appeared in Modern Italy in 2004, which have been strengthened with further empirical elements and a more detailed theoretical framework.
The central argument is that not only has Italy "not always and necessarily [been] a 'pygmy' ", but that its relationship with the EU is "much more complex than generally supposed".
The book starts with an introduction that provides the theoretical background against which the subsequent empirical chapters are tested. These contributions cover various policy areas and each of them analyses two cases (a success and a failure) to assess Italy's role and to make a comparative analysis that identifies the factors that contribute to a good or bad Italian performance. The theoretical model comprises four explanatory factors, namely systemic, institutional (structural), individual and cultural (actor-related) variables. These factors demonstrate that Italy performs in different ways depending upon the policy and the situation under consideration. Moreover, the authors advance another theoretical assertion, namely that the notion of 'national interest' is "logically and empirically unusable" as it considers permanent and univocal policy orientations, whereas in practice actors constantly compromise on single issues, which makes the concept of 'policy preference' a more suitable theoretical tool.
The value of the book is its contribution to an underdeveloped research field. Its detailed and well-documented case studies provide clear examples that help the reader grasp the theoretical implications proposed by the authors. The final picture drawn by the book is that Italy is a country that can be influential in EU policy-making, thus disproving the idea that it is only a policy-taker. Finally, the book is important because its theoretical framework can be applied to the study of other member states' roles in the EU. (Benedetta Voltolini)
Greater Middle East
Descent into chaos : how the war against Islamic extremism is being lost in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Central Asia / Ahmed Rashid. - London : Allen Lane, 2008. - lviii, 484 p. - ISBN 978-0-713- 99843-6; 978- 1-84614-175-1 (pbk)
What has gone wrong in the struggle against Islamic extremism being carried out in and around Afghanistan? Just as the United States starts to review its strategy in Afghanistan, a volume that clarifies many of the obscure dynamics that have developed in these last years in Southern and Central Asia appears in European bookstores. Descent into chaos, by Ahmed Rashid, will alter the common view about what happened in Afghanistan after 9/11 and deserves to be considered a seminal work.
The most troubling claim in the essay relates to the support given by the US to the local warlords, support that, in Rashid's view, alienated the Afghan people and opened a window of opportunity for the Taliban to return. While the official story still maintains the opposite, Rashid stresses the extent to which President Hamid Karzai lacked adequate support from the US well before the Obama administration started to question his leadership, simply because the Pentagon disregarded nation-building and wanted to avoid large deployment of American troops on Afghan soil.
That is not the only surprising disclosure in the book. Another deals with Russia's stance at the very beginning of the 'global war on terror'. For instance, according to Rashid, President Vladimir Putin joined the West in its anti-terror crusade only after several unsuccessful attempts to seal off the Central Asian republics from US influence.
Descent into chaos also shows how the European powers involved on the ground opposed the path chosen by Washington, asking for a stronger commitment in the rebuilding of Afghan political institutions, and paving the way for an enlarged NATO role in the country. In Rashid's view, how- ever, the best chances for political success waned between the 2004 presidential election, and the parliamentary polls held just a year later.
The book spells out troubling truths about Pakistan and the true posture of former President Pervez Musharraf in the global war on terror, exposing all the setbacks suffered by US policy in the region. The reader will learn that the Pakistani military supported the Taliban struggle against the Northern Alliance until the very last moment, and urged Musharraf to ask the US for help in extracting Pakistani soldiers from Afghanistan after the fall of the last strongholds of the supporters of the collapsing regime.
In Rashid's view, Islamabad pursued an at best ambiguous agenda, offering limited help in the hunt for terrorists at large, while preserving some of its ties with the jihadist organizations, always instrumental against India in Kashmir. Still, this approach turned against its own supporters, provoking the birth in the Pakistani tribal belt of an indigenous Taliban movement that later tried to kill Musharraf.
The essay is very critical of the Bush administration's stance on human rights as well, which proved to be highly counterproductive for US long-term interests in Central Asia. Guantanamo and the policy of extraordinary rendition compromised the prestige of the United States and made the prospect of a democratization of Central Asia remote, as they set dangerous standards for the local despotic regimes, and in the end strengthened the appeal of jihadism.
The book's conclusions are not optimistic. The problem facing the US and its supporters is no longer a purely Afghan one, having taken on a definite regional dimension, with the potential for further dramatic spill-overs. According to Rashid, by exploiting the ambiguity of Pakistani security policies, Al Qaeda has reconstituted its ability to plan new bloody undertakings to be carried out in South-Central Asia, in Western Europe, and even in America. The events in Mumbai give this message a disquieting prophetic value.
In Rashid's opinion, no one can hope to rescue the region from its dramatic crisis unless the existential anxiety of the Pakistani military is addressed, in the context of a broad international agreement involving India and supported by the US.
Rich in first-hand information, Descent into chaos is an essential read. (Germano Dottori)
A path out of the desert : a grand strategy for America in the Middle East / Kenneth M. Pollack. - New York : Random House, c2008. - xlv, 539 p. - ISBN 978-1-4000-6548-6
The Middle East dominated the international agenda of the Bush administration for eight years and is now the area of US foreign policy that calls for the most serious rethinking and transformation. Like other recent contributions to the debate on the new international course of the United States after the end of the 'Bush era', this book by Kenneth Pollack sets out a number of lessons that the Obama administration should take to heart in the coming months and years in dealing with the many unresolved questions in the Mideast theatre.
A former analyst for the CIA and member of the National Security Council during the Clinton administration, Pollack is most famous for the support he gave, from the left of the political spectrum, to some of the Bush administration's most controversial and infelicitous decisions, including the invasion of Iraq and the forceful removal from power of Saddam Hussein. In 2002, when debate about US foreign policy in the Middle East was still wide open, Pollack published the best-seller, The Threatening Storm, containing an entire section on the need to intervene militarily in Iraq. Pollack's thesis, later reformulated and mitigated, significantly influenced many American liberals who agreed that the terrorist attacks of 2001 called for a military response but were very sceptical of the priorities and the modalities identified by Bush and his neo-conservative advisors.
Pollack admitted a number of years ago to having made various assessment errors in his analysis at that time. While unreservedly among those who believe that General Petraeus' 'surge' strategy is leading Iraq back onto the road of peace, Pollack is ready to admit that the US occupation of Iraq, in the way it was managed in the first few years, caused more problems than it solved. The central thesis of the book, in fact, is that there is no other 'way out of the Middle Eastern desert' than a serious rethinking of the way in which the US is present in the region. He also feels that the only way to solve the many problems that afflict the Middle East is a full return to active and wide-ranging diplomacy on the part of the United States after the militarist trend that marked the Bush years.
But it is in the attempt to establish new criteria and new priorities that that book's shortcomings become evident: it lacks a clear definition of the components of a 'grand strategy' for the Middle East that would go beyond the resolution of the conflicts that have broken out in the last few years. Actually, most of the eleven principles that, according to Pollack, should underlie the new US Middle East policy are reasonable and acceptable. Of particular interest, for example, is his emphasis of the need for Middle Eastern governments to participate fully and actively in the regional stabilisation process and for the people of the Middle East to be active subjects of any political or economic reform promoted by the West in the region. He commendably asserts that any solution to present or future crises in the region has to be multilateral and recommends that the US government use force only as a last resort. But the solidness of a strategy is measured by the principles guiding it and the priorities that it sets out. And it is in this respect that Pollack has not thoroughly understood the causes and the meaning of Bush's errors.
Particularly disappointing is his reluctance to consider a US policy that could differ from that of Israel, which would not throw the historical alliance between the two countries into question, but would acknowledge the responsibility of the Israeli leadership for the spiral of instability and violence in recent years. Pollack is willing to admit that the Bush administration neglected the Arab-Israeli conflict, not addressing the peace process until 2007. But this is not accompanied by a critique of Bush's position towards the Israeli government or its policies, but only a rather general appeal to a return to active and courageous diplomacy. Nor does Pollack agree with the common opinion that the Arab- Israeli conflict continues to be the main source of political tension in the region.
Another shortcoming of Pollack's approach is his inability to identify a real alternative approach to Iran. The book deals with the issue as if it were basically a military matter rather than a political as well as security priority for US policy in the region. Even with regard to Iraq, the book is rather vague in describing a new approach, although it recognises that Petraeus' strategy can continue to work only if it is constantly revised and updated.
The book's strength is Pollack's emphasis on the need to educate the younger generations in the Middle East as a way of creating future political stability and social progress. His astute observation that Western dependence on Middle Eastern resources is not only a strategic weakness of the developed world but also a threat to the solid and stable growth of the economies of the region is another strong point.
On the whole, Pollack's book can undoubtedly be included among the 'must reads' for anyone following the recent American debate on US policy in the Middle East. As a commentary on the new course announced by President Obama, however, it does not seem to offer the kind of 'vision' for the future of the region that the administration is seeking. (Emiliano Alessandri, also in Italian)
The vital triangle : China, the United States, and the Middle East / John B. Alterman and John W. Garver. - Washington : The CSIS Press, c2008. - viii, 144 p. - (Significant issues series; v.30, n.2). - ISBN 978-0-89206-529-5
Common interests and rivalries intertwine the relations between China, the United States and the Middle East: this essay examines each leg of this triangle, measuring its influence on the other two. In fact, a conflict in the Middle East between two important powers, China and the United States, could affect other regions and, vice versa, tensions between the two giants in other sectors could spill over into the Middle East. The two authors investigate the probability of that happening, and at the same time set out possible preventative measures, drawing on interviews with Chinese and Middle Eastern scholars and politicians. The three main chapters are slightly asymmetrical in method and content and the analysis sometimes reveals an American bias. Nevertheless, the essay is extremely interesting, as it illuminates the three-dimensionality of relations between these actors.
The book begins with a study of the Chinese view of the other two sides of the triangle. The Chinese are convinced that the US Middle East policy is basically an attempt to obtain control of energy resources and, thereby, global domination. Nevertheless, this conviction has never been expressed openly and directly and the Chinese People's Republic has never taken the side of anti-hegemonic actors. This is mainly because it does not want to jeopardise relations with the US, as they are instrumental to the country's growth and to protecting its interests in the Middle East. China may also maintain its good relations with the US for use as a bargaining chip (see its policy towards Iran). China is pursuing a double-track policy in the Middle East; by maintaining a low profile it builds up friendly and cooperative relations with governments in the region while ensuring its supply of the resources (mainly energy) required for its relentless growth. In summary, Beijing's policy towards the Middle East is a continual attempt to balance its need for cooperation with the governments in the region with its good relations with the United States.
Moving to the Middle Eastern leg of the triangle, the authors show that for Middle Eastern countries, China is a counterweight to US post-Cold War imperialism. This is especially true after the events of 9/11 damaged relations with the US, which led to increased interaction between China and Middle East countries. In fact, China's stance of non-interference in a country's domestic affairs, sometimes combined with economic support, has made it an attractive partner. Consequently, China has become a strategic trade partner for Middle East producers and consumers of raw materials and industrial products, not only in the energy sector and security (arms) sectors but also in the industrial and commodities sectors. In addition, China offers good opportunities for capital investment as an alternative to the United States. The regional actors hope that China will take on a more active political role in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the Iranian nuclear issue. Finally, they point out that China offers a model of combining growth and modernisation with an ancient cultural tradition. In conclusion, the Middle Eastern countries, while maintaining strong trade and security ties with the United States, are trying to broaden and deepen their relations with China, which therefore has the opportunity to contribute more directly to the stability of the region.
As for the American leg of the triangle, there can be no doubt that the US has become more sensitive to China's growing role, focusing not only on energy security matters but above all on China's presumed military capabilities, its friendly and cooperative relations with Middle East countries (which the US feels undermine its efforts to isolate and 'democratise' the more turbulent ones), and its ability to attract traditional US allies (e.g. Israel). The lively debate in the United States, in both the academic and public forums, often hides a concern over the Middle East. The US has not developed a 'China strategy' in this regard, and the authors do not think it likely that future US administrations will turn their attention away from the region, for various reasons (oil, terrorism, financial markets, etc.).
Even if the Middle East does not represent an equally strategic focus for China, the possibility of a Sino-American conflict in the region cannot be ruled out: the three sides of the triangle do not necessarily oppose each other, but some opposing interests do create tensions. Yet, none of the parties is interested in sharp rivalry and open conflict. The authors believe, therefore, that the long-term view of the countries is to foster cooperation in sectors of common interest, such as security and energy. That kind of cooperation would also have positive repercussions on Sino-US relations as a whole. (Maritza Cricorian)
The legitimate use of military force : the just war tradition and the customary law of armed conflict / edited by Howard M. Hensel. - Aldershot ; Burlington : Ashgate, c2008. - vi, 300 p. - (Justice, international law and global security). - ISBN 978-0-7546-4980-9
Throughout human history, men have wondered about the conditions under which it is legitimate to resort to the use of armed force in the resolution of conflict (jus ad bellum) and what normative standards should govern its employment (jus in bello). The first part of the book provides an overview of the various theories in Western thought which through time have tried to determine what can be called a 'just war', as well as guidelines for the just application of armed force once the decision to employ it had been made. Reading the book, we are confronted with the various answers that theorists have given to the question of when and how resorting to armed force is legitimate or necessary: whether force can be justified by tyrannical or repressive regimes, the risk of regional instability, punitive or retributive goals, and religious, ideological or other morally-inspired causes. And lastly what the role of non-military instruments such as diplomacy and economic pressure should be.
The theories range from a theocentric perspective, based on a divinely-established law grounded in divine reason, to the neo-classical just war theory which asserts that the only 'just' cause for commencing a war is a wrong received and that the standards for evaluating the conduct of states are the tenets of natural law which are universally binding for all human beings. An anthropocentric natural law perspective, advocated by theorists such as Thomas Hobbes, claims that humans govern their conduct on the basis of egoism and that law is the product of the will of the sovereign who, as the only legitimate governing authority, unilaterally defines what is the law and what is just. To the Hobbesian realists, instead, the international arena is composed of a number of independent, sovereign states seeking to maximise their power and any state is free to pursue its national interest in any manner it deems appropriate. With respect to the causes of conflicts, self-defence, as highlighted in the second part of the book, has generally been considered legitimate and a fundamental right of sovereign territorial states since the Peace of Westphalia (1648), yet there remains scholarly disagreement over the range of permissible actions in the name of self-defence, especially of 'anticipatory' self-defence.
Questions regarding the efficacy and legitimacy of military actions arose within the Bush administration shortly after the 11 September terrorist attacks, when the enemy became shadowy terrorist networks with no fixed territory or populace. In the face of the frightening possibility that terrorist organisations could obtain weapons of mass destruction, the 'Bush doctrine' assumed that the United States had to "secure the world and civilization from evil". Following the Bush security strategy, other countries toyed with their own versions of security doctrines that accepted preventive military action. As a result, there are a variety of just war doctrines.
It is generally not easy to estimate the magnitude of a threat and what qualifies as a legitimate military objective, especially when aggression has not yet occurred. While just cause and right intentions are criteria typically identified by just war theorists, a debate has arisen in recent years over the legitimacy of wars in the name of humanitarian intervention, in addition to those in the name of religion or ideology. The conclusion of the book points out the urgent and imperative need to build and maintain a consensus to place effective limits on the use and threat of use of armed force because of the increasingly lethal means of war and the serious security challenges we face in the 21st century (Rosa Rosanelli)
Peace operations: trends, progress, and prospects / Donald C.F. Daniel, Patricia Taft, & Sharon Wiharta, editors. - Washington : Georgetown University Press, c2008. - xiii, 271 p. - ISBN 978- 1-58901-209-7
This book deals with the evolution and current status of peacekeeping worldwide, addressing both the operations conducted within the framework of the United Nations, and those carried out by other actors, namely regional organisations and coalitions of the willing. The book is the product of a collective effort by a number of academics, practitioners and experts, some of whom are native to or have longstanding experience working with the areas addressed. It contains detailed analyses on both cross-cutting and geographic issues, even if it does not offer a truly innovative approach to long-term peacekeeping.
Part I conducts a macro-analysis across regions and nations, and deals with trends in mission numbers, type of operations (inter- and intra-state), troop totals, contributing countries, and military and other specialised requirements. It outlines well-known trends in the evolution of peace-keeping (from 1948 to 2006) and draws some interesting conclusions on the relationship between the UN and non-UN entities: it reveals a long-term pattern of cooperation rather than competition, with the majority of deployed missions being conducted by non-UN organisations (68, against 60 conducted by the UN). This section also looks at the characteristics of mission contributors and the factors that affect troop contributions. Finally, it highlights the military capabilities needed for future highly-hazardous missions and the specialised requirements of complex missions, including policing, administration of justice, restoration of infrastructures and social services, de-mining, explosive ordnance disposal, and the handling of chemical and biological agents.
Part II focuses on specific regions and nations, assessing developments in terms of institutionalisation of collective mechanisms devoted to peacekeeping and deployment of missions. It provides insight into the political, cultural and ideational dynamics of the different regions as well as the motivations of individual nations, with the aim of explaining their commitment to peacekeeping. Different chapters focus on: (1) African security organisations at both the continental and sub-regional levels, as well as the role played by external donors; (2) the relationship between NATO and the EU, as well as the prospective willingness and capabilities of European countries to play an increased role in peace operations; (3) the lack of a truly regional framework for peace operations in the former Soviet area, because of Russia's dominant role and its differences with Western countries on the nature and practice of such missions; (4) the progress in regional peacekeeping mechanisms and potential for individual contributors in Latin America; (5) incremental change towards a more proactive stance towards peacekeeping in Northeast and Southeast Asia, as well as the long-standing peacekeeping efforts of South Asian states; (6) the limited role played by Middle East countries in global peacekeeping and the challenges faced by this region to establish regional security institutions.
Unsurprisingly, the authors conclude that the prospects for the future are mixed, and that no one systematically-based judgement seems valid. Generally speaking, it seems likely that the demand for moderately challenging operations will be met, while cautionary and negative factors will undermine the hazardous missions. The ability to deploy peacekeeping interventions will ultimately rely on the availability and willingness of global and regional hegemons to take on these tasks, without a guarantee of effectiveness. (Nicoletta Pirozzi)
From the cold war to the war on terror : 60 years of US foreign policy : selections from The Journal of International Affairs / edited by Katherine R. Constabile & J. Quinn Martin ; introduction by Lisa Anderson. - New York : Columbia University, c2006. - xv, 421 p. - ISBN 0-9789500-1-1
A collection of essays on US foreign policy and security issues published in the Journal of International Affairs, this book is organised into eight very different parts, ranging from the Cold War of the late 1950s to the Global War on Terror 50 years later, for a total of 24 articles. Edited by two respected Columbia scholars, Katherine Constable and J. Quinn Martin, the book shows how Foreign Affairs is far from being the only authoritative journal in the field and how influential Columbia University has been in shaping American strategic theorists throughout the second half of the 20th century.
While the Cold War is certainly over, some of its most important warriors are still active. The debate between hawks and doves, the fierce arguments over the Cold War's origins and evolution, which characterised most of Western political culture for a long time, are effectively summarised here in three essays, written by Zbigniew Brzezinski, Condoleezza Rice and Paul Wolfowitz, all still strikingly influential today.
In the second part of the anthology, three other leading scholars, Hans Morgenthau, Karl Deutsch and Kenneth Waltz, provide profound insight into the difference between the approaches of American academics and the heritage of traditional European thinking. In an exchange spanning 25 years, they dispute how an international relations theory should be tested: by matching its assumptions against observations or by drawing propositions from the theory and testing these against the real world?
The next three articles are on war. In very different ways, and actually without too much confidence, a young Samuel Huntington, Hannah Arendt, and Terry Nardin look for alternatives to war as a political tool, respectively investigating the meaning of deterrence, power, and sovereignty. Taken together, these three articles are a perfect sample of the innumerable studies written on this topic in the United States, probably the only Western country in which war is seen as a feasible instrument of foreign policy.
With the wars of dissolution of Yugoslavia in the foreground, Alexandre Motyl and Mark Jurgensmeyer turn to modern nationalism as a substitute for religion, setting politics in a sacred context. In his somewhat older article, Walter Connor explores the link between democratisation and nationalism since the early days of the French Revolution. Again, these three articles are well chosen, given that few essays on religion and nationalism can hold their own with the passing of time.
The search for compatible models of economic efficiency, political democracy and social equality is the focus of the fifth part. In another collection of three articles, first published over a span of 30 years, Samir Amin, Robert McNamara, and Jagdish Bhagwath trace some of the most important lines of thinking on theory and practice in the postwar move, worldwide, toward economic development and globalised trade.
Far from being a new problem, energy has long engaged scholars and policymakers in a continuing vibrant debate. The purpose of the sixth round of three articles, this time signed by Christopher Flavin and Seth Dunn, Douglas Barns and Willem Floor, and an almost prophetical Paul Volcker in the aftermath of the first big oil crisis in the mid-1970s, is to explain why energy matters and what it is about the world energy system that makes its influence and interaction so widereaching and powerful.
Two former UN secretary generals, Dag Hammarskjo¨ld and Boutros Boutros-Ghali, and a respected Princeton academic, Richard Falk, give an overview of the evolution of the world organisation and an extremely interesting explanation of a very topical problem: why relations between the United Nations and the only superpower are so persistently troubled.
Finally, in the last part of the book dedicated to the war on terror, Eqbal Ahmad, Stephen Sloan and Magnus Ranstorp, although of different backgrounds and generations, share the same opposition to any clear-cut definition of terrorism. They also all think that, throughout its long history, terrorism has slowly changed. Born as a tool to speed success in conflict or to draw public attention to a given cause, it has evolved into an end in itself, actually deployed and fought without any true concern for the military or ideological objectives it might eventually fulfill. (Lucio Martino)
Guerre del 21° secolo / Alfonso Desiderio. - Firenze ; Milano : Giunti, 2008. - 143 p. - (21. secolo). - ISBN 978-88-09-05611-4 665
War has always been one of the most controversial and hotly debated subjects in international relations. One of the components of relations between states, war has evolved over the years, in parallel with the changes that have taken place in internation politics, adapting to the different eras which have, in a continuum, succeeded each other since the peace of Wesphalia.
Following the entire course of this change throughout the four centuries of history is no simple matter, especially if the course includes the birth and decline of the modern nation-state and the rie of an immense network of globalisation with its inter- and trans-national intricacies. But an excellent attempt has been made by Alfonso Desiderio in his Guerre del 21° secolo.
The author, an Italian journalist and expert on geostrategy and geopolitics, not only retraces all the conflicts that are shaking the world but also tries (in only 150 pages) to discover the causes and sketch out possible future scenarios for war in the new century. A difficult task, but one which he seems to achieve through the wise use of maps that facilitate the visual placement of the conflicts and make it easier to read the spatial variable which would otherwise be lacking in a text that is essentially historical.
Thus, history and geography are intertwined in the changing scenarios of the conflicts today. While the most detailed sections of the book are reserved for the most well known wars - Iraq and Afghanistan - Desiderio does not forget to point out that other conflicts are also under way, in Congo, Sudan, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Myanmar, Kashmir and Sri Lanka, as well as the chronic wars that no longer draw the attention of the masses, like the Arab-Israeli conflict. The book takes us to the so-called no man's lands in which local strongmen dominate, unheeding of a weak central government: the jungle of Colombia, now ruled by FARC, the Durand line between Pakistan and Afghanistan, where the Taliban have settled, the Strait of Malaca, where piracy is not a thing of the past.
Nevertheless, the book does not merely describe the wars of today, it analyses the changes in these conflicts in light of the historical/political/technological changes in recent years. From industrial war, fought with conventional weapons and limited technology, conflict has evolved towards forms of "war without limits" or "war among the people". Technological progress, the increase in themeans of communication and globalisation have incremented the potential of unbounded war. There are no longer limits to weapons, whether conventional or not: these now include computer viruses, financial instruments or even images transmitted on world networks. Nor are there geographic limits: this was proven by 9/11. There are no longer temporal limits, since new wars often do not end but are submerged by indefinite attempts to negotiate only to re-emerge later like underground rivers. The new wars are fought among the population, which is no longer only the object of military operations, but has become the setting in which the war takes place and into which the enemy infiltrates. The population is the greatest challenge of the 21st century. Desiderio thinks that demographic growth, which is happening at an incredible pace in the poorer parts of the world, can foment other conflicts.
The author does not seem to have doubts about the future: the concept of war without limits will reach its climax when it extends into space.
Desiderio's book makes good reading for anyone who wants a clear and concise introduction to war today. From industrial war to the war on terror, the book is an homage to geostrategy, combining the importance of the technological variable - information warfare - with the growing role of the post-state dimension of the international system. (Donatella Cugliandro, also in Italian)
Diritto costituzionale comparato dei gruppi e delle minoranze / Francesco Palermo, Jens Woelk. - Padova : Cedam, 2008. - xii, 318 p. - ISBN 978-88-13-28194-6
Given that this manual illustrates the principles and norms that regulate the protection and promotion of minority rights, one might think that it is meant exclusively for university students and people working in the field of comparative public law. Instead, it can be extremely useful to anyone interested in managing ethnic and cultural diversities and, in particular, in conflict management.
The book's clarity is certainly enhanced by the authors' first hand experience with the model of autonomy of the Alto Adige/Südtirol Autonomous Region in Italy. This experience was the basis of their research activity along with the Minorities and Autonomies research project for the European Academy in Bolzano on which they worked. This research area includes two centres of excellence for research on the protection of minorities and the study of federalism, subjects of great interest to the local administrations with which the scholars collaborate actively. Their experience in the field is reflected in the constant attention dedicated in this manual, to putting into practice the principles and rules for the protection of minorities.
In the book, the authors are always careful to accompany legal passages with examples to facilitate comprehension of the concepts. As a result, they present a broad range of instruments for the solution of specific problems. Another particularly appropriate choice is the use of historical examples to discuss current problems. Thus, the book is reader-friendly and at times even captivating, opening the subject up to non-specialists.
The first part provides a general theoretical framework, starting out from the definition of minorities. After underlining that the concept of minorities is relative to the context, Palermo presents the main typologies of minorities (autoctonous, "new minorities" and indigenous people) and quickly goes over the terminology used. In the second chapter, the author illustrates the macro-typologies of minority rights (non discrimination, positive actions, right to self-government) identifying a general trend towards recognising differentiated rules as an instrument for integration and implementation of the principles of equality rather than seeing them as exceptions to that principle, as was formerly the case. The next chapter describes the legal treatment of the differences in the four main abstract models of constitutional orders: repressive, liberal, promotional and multi-national. A comparison of these models leads the author to underline that legal instruments are dynamic and must be monitored. The first part ends with a brief history of minority rights, starting from the compromise of Wesphalia, the birth of the modern state, up to our time marked by the increasingly active role of the international community and the progressive constitutionalisation of international law.
In the second part, the authors examine the legal bases and the instruments for safeguarding or promoting the main "special" rights of minorities: political representation, self-government, linguistic and religious rights.
The third part of the book analyses three case studies exemplifying the main models of constitutional orders. The evolution of the constitutional order of the United States in relation to racial segregation is the case study chosen by Palermo as an example of the liberal individualist model, indifferent to recognition of minority groups and not inclined to set out promotional rules. The second case study deals with the Italian constitutional order, a model promoting linguistic rights (since minority protection is limited in Italy to the linguistic factor). The model is considered sophisticated and has been studied abroad, and two aspects are highlighted: the first is the strong asymmetry of the legal sources and the complex intersection between constitutional law, the 1999 framework law and regional legislation which seems to be increasing exponentially lately. The second feature is the strong asymmetry in the degree of protection of minorities, a structural difference in treatment deriving from the pluralistic aspirations of the Italian order. The last case study is on Bosnia Herzegovina. The "realism" of the solution imposed by the international community has produced the institutionalisation of the ethnic factor and consequently, territorial segregation and a cristallisation of relations between the ethnic groups. Woelk points to Macedonia as an alternative example.
The authors emphasise that the instruments used for legal treatment of differences are powerful and, therefore, inherently dangerous, making the monitoring of their concrete operation and the planning of later amendments very important. This is the only way to prevent instruments that seem appropriate in a certain situation from producing deleterious effects when circumstances change. (Alessandra Bertino)