Print version

Recent Publications 49:3


Contributions were received from Eleonora Colonna, Francesca Monaco and Paola Sartori.

The EU and effective multilateralism : internal and external reform practices  / edited by Edith Drieskens and Louise G. van Schaik. - London and New York : Routledge, 2014. - xvii, 199 p. - (Routledge studies in European security and strategy). - ISBN 978-0-415-71311-5; 978-1-315-88155-3 (ebk)
Ten years ago, discussions at the United Nations on the intervention in Iraq revealed a substantial lack of cohesion within the European Union. Consequently, in an attempt to consolidate the EU's position at the international level, the European Council adopted the European Security Strategy (ESS) on 12 December 2003. This document identifies existing challenges and threats to European security and presents effective multilateralism, with specific mention of the UN, as a strategic objective for the European Union in order to deal with such challenges. Following the adoption of the ESS, effective multilateralism and the EU's intention to affirm its position in the international arena in a more consistent and efficient way became guiding principles of many foreign policy documents issued by the EU. These considerations and the need to accommodate an enlarging membership led the European Union to engage in a significant institutional reform process which resulted in the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty in 2009.
This book, a collection of contributions from well known scholars and experts in the field of international relations and European studies, seeks to analyse the impact of the Lisbon Treaty on both the EU's internal effectiveness and its external dimension in the context of international organisations. Each chapter, covering the ten-year period since the adoption of the ESS, deals with a particular international institutional setting inside the United Nations system (i.e. UN Security Council, UNGA, WHO, FAO, UNEP) or outside the UN system (NATO, OSCE, ICC, IAEA). Contributions are built on a twin pillar structure. Through the analysis of concrete measures taken by the EU and its member states in operationalising effective multilateralism, the authors discuss the EU's influence on the reform process in the areas in question.
The findings concerning the fit between internal reform (institutional reform within the EU) and external reform (notably the institutional reform carried out in the international settings in which the EU operates) produce a rather heterogeneous picture. With regard to security governance and relations with NATO in particular, it seems that multilateralism in formal organisations has weakened, leading to a shift to informal forms of cooperation on a case-by-case basis, referred to by the author as "selective multilateralism". The conclusions outline that even if the Lisbon Treaty suggests that the European Union can think strategically about institutional reform, there is evidence that it maintains an internal perspective in doing so, focused on the externalisation of its own institutional reform process, instead of contributing to the transformation and effectiveness of the international organisations in which it operates.
Even though it is an edited volume, made up of different contributions focusing on different organisations, the reading is quite fluid. An introductory chapter presenting an overall view of the topic and describing in detail the general structure of each contribution makes it easier for the reader to understand the analysis. Grounded on empirical research, most of the analysis is based on interviews with policy officials. Through accurate presentations, each author succeeds not only in providing the reader with a broad understanding of the issue, but also offers interesting food for thought and deeper insight into the European Union's foreign policy.
The book is an interesting read for all students of international relations in general and for students focused on European studies in particular. Furthermore, considering the ongoing debates on reform processes within many international organisations, this book turns out to be even more interesting for the analytical insight into this issue that it provides. (Paola Sartori)

Geopolitical change, grand strategy and European security : the EU-NATO conundrum in perspective / Luis Simón. - New York : Palgrave MacMillan, 2013. - x, 286 p. - (The European Union in international affairs). - ISBN 978-1-137-02912-6
This book seeks to contribute to a better understanding of the nature and evolution of European security. Starting with the assumption that EU security is characterised by a continuous and evolving tension between cooperation and conflict among member states, the author's aim is to provide an exhaustive and detailed analysis of the forces driving such a powerful contradiction. In order to achieve this goal, the author, a postdoctoral researcher at the Institute for European Studies in Brussels (IES), skillfully places the emphasis of his research on the special role played by geopolitics and the grand strategies of Europe's most powerful countries, namely Great Britain, France and Germany (referred to as the 'Big Three'), especially in relation to NATO and the European Union's Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP). According to the author, only by exploring the relationship between these dynamic variables can the nature and evolution of EU security politics be fully grasped.
The volume is well structured and organised - thematically and chronologically - into four main sections. The first part (Introduction and Chap. 1) begins by precisely defining and contextualising the research topic. This is followed by a deep, thoughtful analysis of the concept of power in relation to geopolitics, grand strategy and cooperation. The second part examines the interplay between geopolitical change, grand strategy and the national priorities of the Big Three in relation to NATO and the EU's CSDP in three periods: the Cold War and the post-Cold War periods (1945-2000); the post-September 11 years (2001-05) and the post-Iraq years (2005-10). The third part offers a comprehensive analysis of the impact of national priorities on the evolution of NATO and CSDP. The last section (Chap. 6), after summarising the research outcome, briefly offers an overview of the development of CSDP and NATO after 2010, and suggests possibilities for future research.
While reading the book, what strikes the reader the most is the author's ability to clearly and effectively outline, in a single volume, the complex and dynamic geopolitical context over a long time period, and its implications for the grand strategies of Europe's leading powers. Additionally, another key feature of the author's analysis is his use of solid, qualitative and empirical data that include national strategic documents, speeches and interviews with national defence and foreign policy officials, EU and NATO representatives and experts from think tanks and policy institutes.
The book would be a stimulating read and extremely useful tool for all students and scholars of international relations with a particular interest in EU security, geopolitics, NATO and CSDP. (Eleonora Colonna)

Understanding complex military operations : a case study approach / edited by Volker Franke, Karen Guttieri, and Melanne Civic. - London and New York : Routledge, 2014. - xxiv, 285 p. - (Security and conflict management). - ISBN 978-0-415-71280-4; 978-1-315-88157-7 (ebk)
This volume is a collection of case studies written by authoritative scholars who work in civilian and military environments. The aim of the editors is to provide materials to engage students enrolled in professional military programs and civilian academic courses in active learning about peace building and conflict management in the context of complex operations, defined as "military and civilian activities to restore and ensure order" (1).
As explained in the first chapter, the editors' educational mission is at the basis of their methodological choice. They chose a case study approach in order to involve students more thoroughly in the learning process. Indeed, analysing case studies requires that the problems, dilemmas and decision parameters be recognised, possible solutions, strategies and policy recommendations determined and obstacles to their implementation identified. This engaging and multilevel analysis reveals the complexity of stability operations and it is for this reason, according to the editors, that the case study method is the most suitable for preparing civilian and military actors for deployment in complex operational environments. In addition, the editors use their experience as educators and writers about complex operations to give case-based instruction on how case studies should be taught.
The structure of the book reflects the editors' educational mission. The book is divided into five parts, each covering a different aspect of complex operational environments: policy questions, security providers, coordination challenges, security and development program challenges, analytic cases. Each part presents information on the content, and guidelines on how to approach the cases in question: who is the story about, what aspects are most important and which questions should be raised. Unfortunately, in the attempt to deal with the various aspects of complex military operations, the book lacks a clear and coherent link between the five parts.
Many of the case studies included in the book are written from the point of view of the person involved. This helps develop empathy with the participant, but also facilitates an understanding of the complexity of the situations described and identification of the multiple factors that need to be taken into account in formulating possible solutions. In addition, brought together in the same thematic part are cases that differ in time and place, from the rising power of the opium trade in Afghanistan to the importance of sustainable human development programs for reintegrating child soldiers in Sierra Leone. This choice underlines the relevance of the context to the outcome of the operation; the same problem in different situations requires different solutions. For instance, the fourth part explores the interdependence between security, development and human rights in three distinct cases.
In conclusion, Franke, Guttieri and Civic have succeeded in producing a book that is useful to students, professors and experts in analysing some key aspects of complex military operations. Moreover, the case study method is very stimulating. Since the majority of the case studies raise more questions than they answer, the reader is encouraged to go on thinking about them to find a possible solution.
Despite the primarily academic target, the language of the case studies is not very technical so that the book can be an interesting and thought-provoking read for experts as well as students and young professionals with a scant background in the field. (Francesca Monaco)