Contributions were received from Chiara Bellani, Elena Cesca, Tommaso De Zan, Katia Oslansky, and Emanuela Pergolizzi.
The European Union's emerging international identity : views from the global arena / edited by Henri de Waele, Jan-Jaap Kuipers. - Leiden ; Boston : Martinus Nijhoff, 2013. - xvii, 260 p. - (Studies in EU external relations ; 6). - ISBN 978-90-04-23098-9 ; 978-90-04-23099-6
The publication is a multi-authored book gathering together the contributions of several experts, who offer their personal input concerning the European Union's international identity in a global context. The editors open the volume with some preliminary observations on the international role of the EU, starting out with a historical background and ending with the contributions to its legal personality provided by the Treaty of Lisbon. They underline that the EU is a "capricious global player" (1) within a "nebulous" legal and institutional framework (4), which eventually produces different outcomes in the external relations field. In order to give readers a complete overview of the topic, the book presents a collection of ten chapters written by different authors and specialists. They highlight the different organisations in which the EU's international identity is most evident. The volume analyses the strict cooperation of the EU with many international bodies, illustrating its global role at different levels. After the introduction provided by the two editors, the following chapters focus on the relationship between Europe's external representation and its internal coordination, including its status and participation in many international organisations, such as the UN or NATO, used as terms of comparison for analyzing some specific European policies. There is not only an analysis of the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP), but also a study of the strict connection between the EU's international identity and the emergence of this policy (mainly linked to the EU's relations with NATO, which have increased greatly in the last decades). After that, the institutional aspects of trade policy, especially in the context of the WTO, are examined. The same approach is adopted with respect to the EU's relations with the Council of Europe, considered its "fraternal twin" (101), and with the OECD and finally the IMF. A specific analysis of cooperation between these organisations and the EU, especially at the institutional level, form the last part of the book. The seventh and tenth chapters are written by the two editors. The former concerns private international law and European involvement in The Hague conference, the latter offers a comprehensive conclusion to the whole work, analyzing the commitment of European member states representing the EU in global gatherings. The importance of their cooperation and the incremental influence of the EU when dealing with international partners are clearly pointed out. Moreover, a final critical statement holds the implicit thesis of this book: "the EU is often viewed as a cohesive group of UN members rather than an actor in and of itself" (10, 255).
The book provides an extremely complete and well researched analysis; information is detailed and the sources numerous. The authors are highly authoritative experts writing about matters they work on daily. While this is one of the more attractive features of the book, it can also be seen as a weakness in that the detail makes it more appropriate for readers already knowledgeable about the subject. Furthermore, the fact that each chapter deals with a different organisation makes reading a little choppy. As often happens in edited books, what is lacking is a common thread linking the various chapters, which are sometimes rather divergent. It's rather like reading ten small books. Nevertheless, the ten chapters, in whatever order, provide a watertight and comprehensive overview of the EU's international identity. (Chiara Bellani)
Europe after enlargement / edited by Yannis A. Stivachtis and Mark Webber. - London and New York : Routledge, 2013. - viii, 165 p. - (Journal of European Integration special issues). - ISBN 978-0-415-82638-9
This book by multiple authors originated in a special issue published by the Journal of European Integration. The regional dimension, shaped by intergovernmental organisations and shaping regional international societies, is the keystone to understanding the dynamics of cooperation between states in several fields, from security and the economy to the spread of democracy and human rights. The enlargement process of international organisations follows dynamics of inclusion/exclusion in which the concept of "otherness" tends to vary over time. This collection of articles is based on the assumption that the enlargement of European-based organisations is close to reaching a "terminal point", therefore Europe must be discussed in terms of post-enlargement, and the limits of enlargement set out. To that end, the authors refer to and conceptualise the theories of the English School (ES) of International Relations (IR), which distinguishes between international system, international society and world society.
The book is composed of eight chapters and structured in two main parts: the first deals with Europe's four principal international organisations, the EU, Council of Europe (CoE), NATO, OSCE; the second is made up of country-based contributions, looking specifically at Turkey, Russia and the western newly independent states, Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine. In the former cluster, the analysis centres on a comparison of the different paces of enlargement and the extent to which the four features of post-enlargement (limits on membership, organisational consolidation, enlargement fatigue and duality of borders) are found in the organisations considered. Since the post-enlargement processes depend on the specificities of each case, the four features apply differently to the various organisations. However, the authors tend to pair the EU and NATO, on one hand, given the scepticism related to the accession of new members and the ongoing debate on the subject; and the OSCE and CoE, on the other, as they are both about to encompass the entire continent and represent a "thinner" form of regional society.
The second part is more empirical and less concerned with the ES conceptual framework. If geographic proximity matters, then it has to be noted that some states, like Turkey, are an integral part of these organisations, but are not included in the core organisation (the EU). The entry of Russia and Turkey into the European state system is viewed as a threat to its very foundations, its principles and its identity. In this context, the European Regional International Society (ERIS) is taken as fertile terrain for identifying and analysing particular concerns. An overview is given of the abovementioned nations' foreign policy, political reforms and relations with Europe, as well as their ambiguous positions in relation to ERIS. Russia, for example, is both an engaged outsider and a partial insider which, through its neo-revisionism, is not against the existing order but seeks to make it more inclusive. Analogously, EU relations with the western newly independent states (NIS), namely former Soviet states gravitating towards Moscow, are still managed as a sub-system of relations with Russia, with consequent repercussions on the EU's influence in the so-called "shared neighbourhood".
Although there is no common format, each piece is well structured and logically argued. As mentioned above, the last three chapters, the country-based contributions, are less theoretical and more concrete and frank in discussing why enlargement fatigue applies more to some non-EU countries than others. A set of conditions, including the notion of "liminality" (5-6), and both positive developments and factors stalling or even reversing progress toward European integration, clarify the reasons behind Russia's neo-revisionism, the declining diffusion of European norms in and towards Turkey, and the western NIS' sterile attempts to integrate into an increasingly exclusive EU. Summing up, the book's comprehensive approach (theoretical and practical) makes it essential reading for IR academics as well as intergovernmental and European practitioners. (Elena Cesca)
Tactical nuclear weapons and Euro-Atlantic security : the future of NATO / edited by Paolo Foradori. - London and New York : Routledge, 2013. - viii, 190 p. - (Studies in European security and strategy). - ISBN 978-0-415-63534-9 ; 978-0-203-09377-1 (ebk)
Although not as salient as during the Cold War period, the issue of nuclear disarmament remains one of the most debated topics of international security today. As talks on the Iranian nuclear programme continue and the possibility of a North Korean strike is not completely excluded these two issues seem to hypnotise experts and policymakers in all countries, given their importance and impact on public opinion. Against this backdrop, Paolo Foradori's edited book deals with another concern regarding nuclear disarmament, that is the presence, role and future use of Tactical Nuclear Weapons (TNWs) in European NATO countries.
The book, a collection of essays from major scholars and analysts in the field of TNWs, opens with a valuable introduction in which the topic is precisely defined and contextualised in the changing international system after the Cold War era. In the first part, various authors analyse the implications of TNW deployment in five European countries (Belgium, Netherlands, Turkey, Italy and Germany), presenting all actors involved in the national debates in a holistic and systematic manner. One of the underlying themes of this section is that, even though TNWs appear to be considered obsolete in most of the countries involved, their important symbolic value (Euro-Atlantic security) and the need to put disarmament in a multilateral perspective (not only with NATO member states, but with Russia as well) make the status quo a preferable solution to any other outcome.
In the second part of the book, a wider perspective is taken and the viewpoints of NATO, the US, the Russia Federation and the new NATO member states of Central and Eastern Europe are also assessed. Of course, considerations regarding TNWs differ greatly with respect to those of the countries in the first part, as they reflect concerns dictated more by geopolitics and strategic assumptions. In particular, although the US and especially its reelected president, Barack Obama, hold TNWs in low regard, Russia and Eastern states still do not trust their neighbours and attribute much value to these weapons as an instrument of leverage. The volume is extremely interesting and useful because of the limited and well defined scope of the authors' research. Addressing only the subject of TNW, they do not focus their attention on other arguments linked to nuclear proliferation and are able to conceptualise the most important elements affecting the TNW debate at national level clearly and effectively. In particular, what strikes the reader the most is the perfect mix of political and technical considerations employed by the various authors to describe how internal and external factors shape national policies with regard to TNWs.
Finally, while the book could be stimulating reading for all students of international relations, it should be viewed as a must-read for students of international security seeking a deeper understanding of TNWs after the Cold War era. Moreover, students of European politics and security might also benefit greatly from it, given the implications of TNWs for the future of Euro-Atlantic security and NATO. (Tommaso De Zan)
Turkey and the Middle East
Understanding Turkey's Kurdish question / edited by Fevzi Bilgin and Ali Sarihan. - Lanham [etc.] : Lexington Books, c2013. - xxi, 250 p. - ISBN 978-0-7391-8402-8 ; 978-0-7391-8403-5 (ebk)
As the ongoing negotiations between the Turkish government and the representatives of the Kurdish population have turned new attention on Kurdish studies, this multi-authored volume fills a vacuum in the analysis of Turkey's Kurdish question.
Bringing together the contributions of leading experts in the field, such as Oral Çalislar and Cengiz Çandar, the book provides a perceptive and comprehensive analysis of Turkey's Kurdish question from the political, social and cultural perspectives. Going back to the genesis of Kurdish nationalism during the late nineteenth century, four comprehensive sections attempt to unravel the complexity of the Kurdish question, as well as its domestic and regional challenges.
The volume begins by retracing the origins of the conflict to the fall of the Kurdish emirates at the end of the Ottoman Empire and its legacy in the early years of the Kemalist Republic. A clear-cut analysis of the shifting dynamics of the Kurdish question, from a social to a political issue, is then drawn by Oral Çalislar. Fuat Keyman and Umut Özkirimli critically examine the possibility of a democratic solution, suggesting the need to reassess Turkey's nationalistic understanding of citizenship.
The second section provides an in-depth analysis of the strategies adopted by the Turkish government and Kurdish organisations through the years, highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of both approaches. The attention is mainly drawn to the Kurdish armed movement, the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), but an effective presentation of the wider range of Kurdish organisations is provided in Michael Gunter's chapter. The third part allows the reader to examine the question from an unusual perspective, shedding light on the religious organisations operating in Turkey's Kurdish southeastern provinces and their role in civil society: the Hezbollah and Hizmet movements.
The volume ends with an assessment of the regional and international implications of the Kurdish struggle for recognition. The developments of the ongoing negotiations are reframed in the light of the broader geopolitical balances emerging from the Arab uprisings. The general observation is that Kurdish demands, together with the regional forces of fragmentation, mark the irreversible end of the Sykes-Picot era. While the post-Cold War order is unquestionably being challenged, the future of the Kurdish population living between Turkey, Syria and Iraq remains largely unpredictable.
The only criticism one can raise is that, although published in 2013, it does not contain any reference to the latest, important developments in the Turkish-Kurdish peace process. Hopefully, a second edition will include new insights into the recent unfolding of both domestic and regional events, also with regard to a - much hoped for - end to the civil war in Syria.
In conclusion, the volume provides a unique reference for scholars interested in grasping, in one reading, the multiple dimensions of Turkey's Kurdish question, as well as its future perspectives. Both experts and scholars approaching Kurdish studies for the first time will benefit from its clear-cut chapters and perceptive insights. (Emanuela Pergolizzi)
Last chance : the Middle East in the balance / David Gardner. - London and New York : I.B. Tauris, 2012. (c2009). - xxxiii, 229 p. - ISBN 978-1-84885-743-8 (ebk)
In the preface to this paperback edition, David Gardner, international affairs editor and associate editor of the Financial Times, states that this book, completed three years earlier, was intended to be a treatise on the "pathology of Arab tyranny and an examination of western collusion on what [he] had called the Arab exception" (xiii). That is to say, it was supposed to explain the exceptional fact that the region was clinging to autocracy and despotic ruling, whilst other parts of the world seemed to be advancing towards democracy.
This exhaustive analysis by one of the most respected media authorities on the Arab world is divided into eight chapters which concentrate on specific countries, regions and conflicts, from Saudi Arabia to Syria and Lebanon and from the Iraqi conflict to the everlasting Israeli-Palestinian question. The book proceeds to elucidate how they are intertwined and to what extent the US and the West in general have misunderstood the root problems. It describes the extent of these conflicts and, thus, the inadequacy of consequent interventions.
In his pungent, polemic and eye-opening examination of the political situation in the Middle East in the most recent decades, Gardner does not save the West and, in particular, the US from criticism for the way they have been dealing with Arab and Muslim countries. Moreover, the title seems right to the point, since the main purpose of this book is to send a strong and clear message to anyone who has the region's stability and peace at heart. Thus, embedded in a mixture of historical and contextual referencing, which only a true expert of the region can provide, Gardner cautions that the path followed until now must be changed, if stability and peace really are the goal.
Furthermore, Gardner points out how the support given to, or at least not denied, authoritative despots, along with the short-sighted approach in dealing with the grassroot problems of the region, have been an obstacle to the development of democratic movements. In addition, the a priori exclusion of any political movement of Islamist origin has not benefited the development of a greater Arab and Muslim liberal society. In the end, this might actually have permitted the strengthening of those jihadi elements that the US so deeply wants to extirpate and their radicalisation in Arab civil society. As Gardner convincingly argues in this fact-rich analysis, after recognising Islamist political parties as part of the political equation, we must now ensure that they become part of the political solution. In this view, Iranian cooperation may be an asset and Turkey could be a good example of a functioning compromise between Islamist and universal values within a political structure.
With the most recent revolutions, the West has the opportunity to set things right. As the author states in the last chapter, the idea that the current status quo in the Middle East can be maintained is an illusion. The realpolitik that blindly considers Israel a democracy and a strategic ally, and that thinks that despotic rule from Egypt to Saudi Arabia can be tolerated in order to guarantee stability and obtain oil at reasonable prices, must be put aside. While this elegantly polemical and logically argued work might prove slightly difficult for those who have little or no knowledge of the region, it is an essential read for anyone who wishes to understand the Middle East in the 21st century better. (Katia Oslanskyi)