Contributions were received from Claudia Astarita, Silvia Colombo, Carolina De Simone, Dario Sabbioni, Kai Schäfer, Alessandro Ungaro and Lorenzo Vai.
China and the European Union in Africa : partners or competitors? / edited by Jing Men and Benjamin Barton. - Farnham ; Burlington : Ashgate, c2011. - xxi, 279 p. - ISBN 978-1-4094-2047-7 ; 978-1-4094-2048-4 (ebk)
China's impressive growth over the past few years is a double-edged sword. According to Jing Men and Benjamin Barton, "China has simultaneously become a possible model for developing nations, whilst acting as a potential rival for developed countries, whether economically, politically or even from a security perspective" (1). At times criticised and at others applauded, it is a matter of fact that China's increasing engagement in Africa has made a great impact on international politics. Aware of the differences between China's Africa policy as compared to that of Europe, Men and Barton's book analyzes, extols and questions its uniqueness.
It is argued that although Africa, owing to former colonial ties, has always been considered Europe's backyard, today China's growing stature in a wide range of sectors (business, investment, foreign aid, security, development, infrastructure and regional integration) has established it as one of Africa's major external actors. China's success is grounded in its ability to structure bilateral relations, going beyond simple commercial exchanges to embrace multiple dimensions. It may be argued that if China's interest in the region had remained purely economic, Europe's reaction to what was perceived as an invasion of its strategic courtyard may have been less strong.
But China was ready to offer an alternative to EU policies on different fronts - an alternative with no strings attached, while Europe imposed various forms of conditionality - and Europe started to feel that its main interests in terms of investments, political affiliations, development objectives and value systems were potentially at risk. This threat became even more explicit when China became oriented towards strengthening a "positive image" in Africa. The book argues that, in Africa, China has deeply reconsidered its approach towards its policy on national sovereignty, becoming more and more "cooperative in peacekeeping and peacemaking actions based on the principle of responsibility to protect" (270). According to the authors, Beijing's aim is to certify its presence as an actor dedicated to 'doing good' for the continent at large and, consequently, improving its international reputation and showing a strong commitment to international governance.
The book argues that China is now even ready to reach political compromises when necessary. Accordingly, to preserve a positive image, China is said to have become more cautious in engaging with countries known for their human rights abuses, in some cases former privileged partners. This evolution has suddenly transformed China into a direct (and dangerous) competitor for Europe. However, this perspective is not shared by Chinese scholars, who stress that China's approach to Africa is not aimed at overthrowing European interests there. On the contrary, they say that "China is seeking to achieve a delicate balance between fulfilling its own needs and maintaining its strategic partnership with the EU and its member states" (271). According to the authors, China has finally realised that acting in an egoistic manner in Africa will not serve its interests nor help to sustain its influence there.
Meanwhile Europe has recently adopted a pragmatic approach aimed at identifying some new areas of joint cooperation, such as counter-piracy operations.
The authors conclude that multidimensional cooperative engagement between the EU and China in Africa is the optimal approach for these two subjects to work together. However, while the many areas of complementarity are broadly recognised, it seems that this coordination for the good of Africa is, at the current stage, more wishful thinking than reality. No matter how desirable this outcome may be, it is questionable whether China and Europe are genuinely interested or ready to cooperate in Africa. (Claudia Astarita)
Regional organizations in African security / edited by Fredrik Söderbaum and Rodrigo Tavares. - London and New York : Routledge, 2011. - 154 p. - ISBN 978-0-415-59787-6
The changes in the nature of violent conflicts in Africa over the last decades require adaptation and increased capacity by conflict management actors to provide security and political stability to states and their citizens. This book, which is based on a special issue of the journal African Security, deals with the role of African regional organisations in conflict prevention, management and resolution, a topic that still remains under-researched.
The book starts out by situating conflict on the African continent along the lines of the 'new wars' theorem, and by tackling the pattern of regionalisation of conflicts, which provides the raison d'être for regional peacekeeping. The second chapter then assesses the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA) with all its components, but mostly from an African Union (AU) angle without considering regional counterpart mechanisms. The editors rightly argue that the "creation of APSA in 2002 is perhaps the most important development in the security field during the past decade" (3). The contributors to the third chapter analyse AU-led peace support operations and their respective mandates, noting their dependence on a few key troop-contributing countries as well as on external assistance, a challenge that was also recognised in December 2008 by the so-called 'Prodi Report', the Joint AU-United Nations (UN) Report on AU peacekeeping operations. Case studies of peacekeeping and mediation activities from the ground are then presented. The analysis of the mixed record of peace efforts conducted by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in four countries (Liberia, Sierra Leone, Cote d'Ivoire and Guinea-Bissau) in the past two decades shows the need for comprehensive approaches at the regional and international level and demonstrates that 'African solutions to African problems' also need international support and legitimacy. A historic overview of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) mediation efforts in the conflict between northern and southern Sudan on the one hand, and the Somali peace process on the other hand, highlights the advantages of regional organisations and their closeness to the conflict in the case of Sudan. Yet, the Somalia case also illustrates the weaknesses of regional organisations that are dependent on the national interests of member states. One chapter of the book also deals with the conflict management efforts of the Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa (CEMAC), which is not one of the eight regional organisations recognised by the AU as having a mandate in peace and security, but which nevertheless established the first multinational military intervention launched by a Central African regional community. The chapter explains how national interests undermined the mission's efforts and provides insight into the rhetoric/reality gap. Other contributions examine the ability of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to provide peace and security within and between its members, using Lesotho and the Democratic Republic of Congo as case studies, and focusing particularly on the aim and beneficiaries (protecting the security of governments or the people) of its interventions. A piece from a practitioner's point of view, by a former European foreign minister, suggests that the limitations to regional peace and security are partly organisational (capacity building and financial), but most significantly political (with regard to the issue of sovereignty and the relationships between people, states and international organisations). In the concluding chapter, the authors note that the importance of African regional organisations is growing in the area of peace and security, but not necessarily with regard to the responsibility to protect and human security, while their relationships with other international organisations are in flux. While contributing to the academic debate on security, the real merit of this book is its focus on African regional organisations and their relationships to other international organisations. Looking at the references, however, it must be noted that the use of almost exclusively English literature may have left out important sources and debates in other languages. Moreover, contributors often compare the regional level with the UN level, without addressing the dynamics between the regional and continental levels. Further studies on African regional organisations and their interactions and relations are therefore needed. (Kai Schäfer)
The European Union diplomatic service : ideas, preferences and identities / Caterina Carta. - London and New York : Routledge, 2012. - xvi, 211 p. - (Routledge advances in European politics ; 75) ISBN 978-0-415-55976-8 ; 978-0-203-80850-4 (ebk)
One of the most interesting post-Lisbon innovations in the EU's structure is the European External Action Service (EEAS), the tool for implementation of the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP)/Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) under the control of the European High Representative for Foreign Affairs.
In this book, Caterina Carta, lecturer at the Université libre de Bruxelles, analyses the process of institutionalisation and identity building of the EEAS from the Commission's early years until today. She bases her research on solid, qualitative, empirical work that includes interviews and analysis of the ongoing socialisation process among civil servants.
The book is composed of four parts. The first part presents a conceptualisation of the EU diplomatic system, reviewing those features and developments in diplomacy that help locate the diplomatic model embodied by the EU. The Union, in fact, as a non-state actor requires a continuous process of negotiation to achieve a common foreign policy (chapter 1). The theoretical framework of the Commission's organisational culture is also analysed (chapter 2), showing how the tension between two different conceptions of organisation and bureaucracy, the Weberian and the consociational, has influenced the Service's institutional setting.
The second part (chapters 3 and 4) reviews the process of institution building and diplomacy making of the EU's diplomatic system from its inception to the present day. The author, supported by documents and interviews, depicts the organisational dimension of EU diplomacy by presenting the diplomatic structure set up by the Commission during its fifty years of field experience.
The third part presents an empirical study of the actors in European diplomacy: the Commission officials who represent the EU abroad. A first analysis is based on a questionnaire submitted to forty heads of delegations, looking into how they set out their mission and interpret their role within the EU's External Service (chapter 5). A second empirical research study, based on interviews with the 'Relex family's' civil servants, becomes a cognitive instrument with which to classify Commission officials and the ways in which they view the EU as an international actor (chapter 6).
The last part of the book explores the main features of the new EEAS introduced by the Lisbon Treaty (chapters 7 and 8). There, Carta argues that the newly established service will suffer from the same institutional fragility as the Commission, considered by the author an example of a weak and mixed model of administration.
Finally, the author offers a preliminary assessment of how Commission officials welcomed the launch of the EEAS. Some prospects for the future are offered by outlining four very interesting possible scenarios.
As a new addition to the EU's architecture, the EEAS has been studied recently in several essays and articles. Caterina Carta's valuable contribution is outstanding for its accuracy and empirical entirety, as well as for its analytic depth. It is successful in demonstrating that the ongoing socialisation process among the Union's supranational institutions has fundamental implications for administrative trends in many bodies, and the EEAS is no exception.
The book is of interest to students and scholars who wish to grasp more deeply how intra-institutional dynamics determine the functioning of European foreign policy, given that the analysis goes well beyond a simple study of the treaties' institutional engineering. The book will also be of interest to those studying CSDP, given that the EEAS has incorporated most crisis management structures, thereby influencing any future development of such policy. Finally, the book is a valuable source of relevant information thanks to its complete and accurate bibliography; a perfect starting point for a wider study of European external action. (Lorenzo Vai)
Italy's foreign policy in the twenty-first century : the new assertiveness of an aspiring middle power / edited by Giampiero Giacomello and Bertjan Verbeek. - Lanham : Lexington Books, 2011. - xvii, 233 p. : ill. - ISBN 978-0-7391-4868-6 ; 978-0-7391-4870-9 (ebk)
After the end of the Cold War significant changes in the international and domestic contexts have impacted on Italy's international agenda and boosted its aspiration to become and be treated as a middle power.
This long-awaited book, edited by Bertjan Verbeek (Radboud University Nijmegen) and Giampiero Giacomello (University of Bologna) and published in late 2011, is the output of a research project launched with a panel organised at the 2009 General Conference of the International Studies Association (ISA) in New York.
According to the authors, the end of bipolar confrontation, the spread of globalisation and the rise of regionalism have increased the possibilities for Italy to achieve middle power status. In addition, the domestic political crisis that unfolded in Italy between 1992 and 1994, leading to the so-called 'Second Republic', has paved the way for new - or rather, renewed? - actors to select the options best suited to the pursuit of a more assertive foreign policy. Examples are: a more influential prime minister, although not in terms of formal powers; new parties, more involved in foreign affairs; sub-state and non-state actors that are more proactive on the international stage (regions, businesses, NGOs).
Building upon these two main arguments, the book aims at filling a major gap in the rather underdeveloped study of Italian foreign policy and advancing the current international relations debate on, among other things, the poorly theorised middle powers and the foreign policy-domestic politics nexus. Contributors to this study have engaged with different theoretical approaches, ranging from neoclassical realist to constructivist views on the somewhat elusive concept of medium-sized powers.
The book is organised in two broad parts. The first outlines the theoretical background of the research and offers a detailed analysis of the post-Cold War international and domestic environments. Chapters cover topics such as Rome-Washington relations, Italy's European policy, the role of foreign policy bureaucracy and the importance of personality and leadership styles. The second part tackles some specific policy issues Italy has recently been confronted with. Contributions analyse Italy's shifting nuclear policy, military missions abroad as one of the most prominent - and basically bipartisan - foreign policy tools, Italian involvement in the Kosovo war in 1999, the influence of the main Italian energy producer (ENI) on Rome's international affairs and the relations between the government and sub-state actors such as strategic industries (oil and gas, electricity, defence and aerospace).
The authors argue that in the last twenty years, all Italian governments have actually attempted to pursue recognition as a middle power in different policy domains, be it traditional security (e.g. balance of power) or new security (e.g. humanitarian intervention, energy). However, middle power status is "a product of domestic processes leading to the definition of the role a state seeks to play in world politics weighed against the expectations other states have regarding the role of the state in question" (16). As a matter of fact, findings show that Italy has not always been considered a middle power by its peers. Thus, the gap between Italy's aspirations and the status it has actually achieved in international politics is real and will probably widen in the coming years. Contributors conclude, on a pessimistic - or perhaps optimistic? - note that "settling for the status of 'great small power' may be Italy's most promising option in the future" (225).
Despite the theoretical and practical pitfalls of the concept of middle power, this work has a number of strong points. First, it adopts an innovative focus on specific policies, actors and instruments rather than the more common geographical approach based on bilateral relations. Second, it addresses issues usually neglected in the literature on Italian foreign policy, namely the role of the Foreign Ministry's bureaucracy in assuring continuity in policy management; a 'mixed model' of foreign policy in which internationally active private companies act as sub-state actors with a clear national constituency, rather than as non-state actors pursuing a genuine global policy; the relevance of multiparty government dynamics and party rhetoric in shaping public discourse on military missions abroad.
In conclusion, this book is recommended reading for scholars, practitioners and citizens interested in Italy's international affairs. In fact, it is not only a valuable contribution to the study of Italian foreign policy as a promising strand of research, but also an important effort to encourage a much needed debate on Italy's international agenda inside and outside the country. (Carolina De Simone)
Russian energy security and foreign policy / edited by Adrian Dellecker and Thomas Gomart. - London and New York : Routledge, 2011. - xv, 253 p. : ill. - (Routledge/GARNET series : Europe in the world ; 13). - ISBN 978-0-415-54733-8 ; 978-0-203-81673-8 (ebk)
Energy security, and in particular security of supply, are two crucial issues that will have to be addressed in the near future by every government in the international arena. As one of the largest suppliers of gas, Russia's international influence has grown, exploiting the opportunities offered by the global demand for energy. For example, it is currently the biggest single supplier to Europe. Therefore, one of the primary concerns for Western countries, and in particular for European Union countries, is the relationship between Russia's foreign and energy policies. In their book, Adrian Dellecker and Thomas Gomart, - manager of Research and Policy at WWF International and vice president of Strategic Development at IFRI, respectively - rely on several contributions from experts to analyse various aspects of Russia's external energy system.
As a starting point, contributions focus on global, regional and bilateral case studies to obtain a wider understanding of geopolitical and economic issues in Eurasia. Focusing on 'the Putin era' (2000-08), the book analyses what the authors call the 'Putin factor'. The authors argue that since the role of President Putin is so significant at the domestic level, any evaluation of business must not underestimate the internal bargaining and the particularities of the Russian decision-making process, including personal favours.
The book is divided into two sections. The first delves into the relationship between Russian energy security and its foreign policy and includes an analysis of the concept of energy security in a post-Soviet perspective from both a regional and an international point of view, the financial factor of pipeline construction, and the role of Central Asian gas producers in developing new routes to deliver gas to Europe to reduce its dependence on Russia. The second part explores Russia's relations with some of the NIS (Newly Independent States) producers, such as Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan.
The analysis shows that foreign and energy policies in Russia and Eurasia generally are commonly approached only in geopolitical terms rather than from a pure business logic, by which companies or states aim to maximise their economic-financial gains. This is particularly true for pipeline projects, such as Nabucco, Trans-Caspian and South Stream, in which the commercial and political interests decide which way projects will go.
Based on these considerations, the authors draw two main conclusions. The first regards the term 'energy power' and the second is related to the transformation of the former Soviet Union (FSU). As explained in the book, Russia is trying to maintain its strategic autonomy within an international system that is increasingly interdependent. In fact, Russia's power projection has to be explained in a long-term perspective, in which energy policy is one of the tools aimed at reinforcing its power. Energy has proven to be a means for promoting Russia's economic and security issues and it has been used to recast power domestically. This conclusion is intrinsically linked to the second one. The FSU space remains fragmented and shaped by bilateral relations. In this context, Russia's perceptions within the FSU have changed since 2008, when the war in Georgia proved that Moscow could use its military might as an additional component to its foreign and energy policies.
The way in which the book deals with the topic allows anyone interested in the subject to gain a deeper understanding of how Russia tries to maintain its dominant role within the regional gas market and how its foreign policy is influenced by the policies of neighbouring countries. In addition, while Russian energy policy is often addressed from a Eurocentric point of view, this book provides a different one by, considering the Russian energy system within the FSU space, with Europe representing only a part of the equation. (Alessandro Ungaro)
Gulf Cooperation Council
The GCC and the international relations of the Gulf : diplomacy, security and economy coordination in a changing Middle East / Matteo Legrenzi. - London ; New York : I.B. Tauris, 2011. - viii, 204 p. - (The library of international relations ; 44). - ISBN 978-1-84511-921-8
Recent events in the Middle East and North Africa, referred to as the Arab Spring, have brought into the limelight the Gulf region, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and the manifold challenges it has to face as it navigates the third decade of its existence. The book by Professor Matteo Legrenzi contributes to enriching our understanding of these realities by analysing the GCC from an historical and institutional point of view. The author's account is based on a variety of primary and secondary sources, as well as interviews conducted in the region, which make the picture of how this organisation works fuller and richer than the one provided by a number of other previous studies on the region.
To grasp the realities of the GCC, the author makes use of international relations theories and, in particular, the body of literature highlighting the renewed importance of regionalism in world politics. Analysis of the role of the organisation and its constituent states in the Gulf's international relations reveals that the GCC is a regional organisation that has its own rules and modes of functioning, which do not resemble those of other regional organisations, much less the European Union. The GCC is a sub-regional forum devoid of any supranational powers. The six member states - Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, Bahrein, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait - retain large powers, in particular in the economic sphere, and dictate the rules of the game. Furthermore, the GCC today still reflects the original objectives set at the moment of its creation in 1981, namely to ensure regime survival for the six sheikh regimes. It is no surprise, according to the author, that the member states have achieved a high level of cooperation in a field like internal security.
Conversely, as far as external defence matters are concerned, the GCC members are aware that they will never achieve self-sufficiency. The lack of integration of their armies is thus a natural extension of the fact that they depend on the presence of an external balancing actor, that is the United States, to confront the power of Iran and, in the long run, a reconstituted Iraq. Despite the setbacks in economic integration, which in itself is an obstacle to sound cooperation with the European Union, the author demonstrates that the GCC has proved useful as a forum for policy coordination among the six member states. It has also served as an important vector of a shared cultural background and the creation of a khaliji (Gulf) category in international relations. The close examination of the GCC's history and its past role demonstrates that the mere resilience of the GCC has led to a spill-over effect at the societal level and a de facto regionalism, despite the gap existing between the rhetoric of integration and the actual results achieved by the organisation.
The contribution of this volume to bridging the gap between area studies and international relations does not lie solely in its assessment of the past role of the GCC but also in its focus on some of the challenges the GCC is facing as it charts its course in the new century. Talks about an upgrade to a Gulf Union appear remote at best. This derives from the increasingly diverse morphology of the GCC member states in the political realm. For example, Qatar has ambitions and indeed has demonstrated that it is able to conduct an independent foreign policy. The liberalisation of the political systems of the six member states is proceeding at different speeds and in very different ways, with Kuwait moving quite rapidly along the continuum from liberalised autocracy to constitutional monarchy. The Arab Spring has arguably accelerated these domestic processes and the six countries will most likely be very different in ten years' time. The widening gap between the member states' political systems has already started to influence the GCC and its ability to remain a meaningful organisation regionally and globally. The question of whether the GCC will be able to find a new equilibrium or whether its role will be increasingly ceremonial is still unanswered. (Silvia Colombo)
The US and its allies
America's allies and war : Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq / Jason W. Davidson. - New York : Palgrave MacMillan, 2011. - x, 250 p. : ill. - (Palgrave studies in European Union politics). - ISBN 978-0-230-61482-6
It has always been difficult for transatlantic academic research to define the key issues and roles of allies participating in US interventions abroad. Notwithstanding the generous amounts of news and information that always precede the policymakers in their complex decisions, this is a very complicated matter. In this enlightening book, Jason Davidson, Associate Professor of Political Science at Mary University in Washington, provides an answer to the transatlantic conundrum of alliances. Why and on what occasions do European allies (and more particularly France, Britain and Italy) commit themselves to US-led interventions? What are the factors that drive these countries to share the burden of alliance? What is the concrete meaning of the word 'willing' when talking about the coalition set up for the Iraq war? Are there any 'entangling alliances', to use George Washington's words?
In a plain and sober style, the author first gives a clear introduction to his research, i.e. a very short but structured outline of his methodological approaches. Working within the framework of both a neoclassical realist and a constructivist theory, Davidson builds up ten propositions (seven proper ones, and three 'alternatives') that cover key variables such as alliance, external threat, electoral prestige (the neorealist school), identity and international norms (the 'Wendtian' school) in explaining allies' decisions to intervene with the US. The focus is restricted to seven case studies, the ones the author considers most interesting and those that are still subject of debate. Vietnam, Lebanon, the Persian Gulf, Somalia, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq (only the last three, quoted in the title, have separate chapters devoted to them) are scenarios for the empirical evaluations of the author, who pursues his research conducting over fifty interviews with policymakers and politicians who sometimes prefer to remain anonymous. The inference methods consist mainly of congruence procedure and process-tracing logic which reveal the rationale behind major decisions, such as Britain's refusal to provide military forces in Lebanon, the European states' positions in Kosovo, acting under the 'auspices' of a future Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), and the allies' contributions to Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan soon after the events of 11 September. The three states considered provided an important - albeit not perfect, it might be claimed - contribution that gave rise to a consistent transatlantic record of shared interventions.
The author's research question could seem ambiguous, given the precarious roots of empirical and quantitative reality. In fact, explaining the various actors' motivations could prove very difficult without a complex psychological and all-encompassing approach. But Davidson manages to produce a coherent and structured model that combines profound theoretical analysis of the decision-making mechanisms with empirical analysis of the numerous case studies. His approach is well structured and consistent, even in a field in which the preponderantly qualitative research material, such as interviews, speeches and newspaper articles, makes it difficult to produce statistics. While politicians' opinions are often unpredictable, the author's historical analysis manages to provide a coherent overview of the high-level foreign policy decision-making process of the countries considered.
The predominance of neorealist tools is clear and evident in the attention focused on key factors in inter-state relations such as prestige, external threat and sovereignty. The last chapter has an interesting normative part that addresses the need for the US and its allies to act together (even if levels of cooperation may differ) to improve the impact of the military interventions they may undertake in the future. Indeed, while the issue of free-riding on the part of states participating in military operations is a factor that cannot be excluded, the key findings show that a renewed transatlantic partnership (of which the analysis finds only meagre traces and no coherent structure) today could be very advantageous, both in terms of resources used and the effectiveness of the operations themselves. Quoting Dwight D. Eisenhower, Davidson says that "[w]ithout allies and associates the leader is just an adventurer like Genghis Khan" (169).
As the economic crisis that has struck both sides of the Atlantic has shown, a lack of cooperation can only make things worse in the long run. The main obstacle to cooperation in military interventions, that is each state's domestic issues, have to be sidelined in order to achieve a high level of cooperation. This is what is already happening in some ways in the multilateral sphere. The path is long and torturous, but a more balanced burden-sharing basically depends on the countries themselves and on what they consider most important: a generally hostile domestic policy towards armed intervention or a "rallying around the [transatlantic] flag". (Dario Sabbioni, also in Italian)