In 2001, Flemish Government created the Institute for European Studies for an initial period of 5 years. This meant that a new agreement had to be concluded by January 2006. Following a thorough external evaluation in September 2004, the Minister of Education approved the prolongation of contract for another five years. A new Government Agreement (Beheersovereenkomst) was concluded and approved by the Flemish Government in December and outlines the rights and obligations of the Institute ‘till 31 December 2010.
Following the decision of the University Council (Raad van Bestuur) of May 2005, setting up the IES as an autonomous institute within University with separate statutes, a new governing board needed to be elected. The university approved statutes indicate that the IES Board need to consist of five members of university’s academic staff, with assignments in the scientific field of European studies, five members with a principal assignment outside the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, and the Rector or his/her representative. They were appointed by the University Council of 17 September 2005 following their recommendation by the Rector (see separate box on the right). They are appointed for a period of four years (as this is the first IES Board under these Statutes, four members are appointed for two years).
The IES Board, which primarily has a strategy oriented task, further appointed an Executive Board responsible for executing the decisions of the Board, and for advice on teaching initiatives (on European studies) within university. It consists of the IES President, the Academic Director and five elected members (three members of university’s academic staff from the postgraduate curricula within the field of European studies + two Board members).
Aristide Zolberg on Multiculturalism
In his talk “Managing diversity: transatantic experiences combined”, Prof. Zolberg tried to find the origins of migration problems, embedded in the Westphalian system.
He assessed that we had to learn from history, and drew a parallel between the situation of muslims in Europe today and catholics arriving in protestant America two centuries ago: the latter were accused of not accepting democratic principles and were regarded as a danger to society. However, just like catholics assimilated in the US, muslims will be “Europeanized”, provided they get the same rights and opportunities as other citizens. Zolberg warned that if we create ghetto’s, people will react as citizens of ghetto’s. Commenting on the current problems in France, Zolberg noted that the notion of “laicité” in the French constitution is a very “catholic” one: unlike in the US, it assumes that all religions have a centralized structure. This is not necessarily so; the muslim communities are very decentralised. Although excesses like in France today exist, we should not give up integration processes in a multicultural society. In this respect, Zolberg noted that the accession of Turkey to the EU is a very important assimilation process both for Turkish society as for the EU. He drew a parallel with the relation of Mexico and Mexicans vis-à-vis the United States and Canada.
Sandra Pratt, working at the European Commission, responded to Dr. Zolberg, critisizing the emphasis countries put on forced assimilation without looking at the core of the integration problems. Helen Bloom added that the lessons from history can not be applied blindly on current situations: whereas the pioneers of the 18th and 19th century had a need to assimilate, current technology and mobility allow for multiple contacts with the home base.
Zolberg’s talk was a belated contribution to the lecture series on Multiculturalism in the EU, which was held in the Spring of this year. Senior Researcher Richard Lewis, who organised this lecture series, chaired the talk and led the interesting debate with the audience that followed. The lecture concluded with a small reception to mark the inauguration of the IES’ new premises.
Barbara Haskel on EMU
On Tuesday 22 November, McGill University Professor Dr. Barbara Haskel (Montreal, Canada) lectured on “EMU and Fiscal Federalism”. Invited by PILC-professor Youri Devuyst, Dr. Haskel gave her introductory talk on the EMU at the new IES premises for an interested PILC-student-audience and staff of IES and VUB’s politics department.
Free information on the web: the future beyond the new EUR-Lex
Dr. Pascale Berteloot of the EU Office of Publications (Luxembourg) kicked off by describing the new EUR-Lex system (europa.eu.int/eur-lex/lex/). The new EUR-Lex is the public information version of the “old” (since 1998) EUR-Lex system that used to be payable, and the even older Celex (1970s) internal documentation system provided by the EU. The system, which is now free of charge, is available in 20 languages and three different character sets. It attracts over 150.000 visitors per day. Going over the various technical difficulties a system of such magnitude encounters, she outlined which additional features were developed, and what elements are still to be created. She warned about the various difficulties of multilingual systems, and touched upon the experimental N-Lex – a European web-based system that gives an overview of the implementation of European Law into national law of (22 out of 25) member states, and which aim is to meet increasing interest in the law of the neighbours by national parliaments and administration as well as academics.
Dr. Doris Liebwald of the University of Wroclaw critisized the new EUR-Lex system as basically, it is an instable system that is not ready but already online. This leads to a lot of frustration on behalf of the user: erroneous error messages, dead links, and no search hints for the system are not really helpful. The system basically went online too early and influences the user’s “first impression”. However, a lot of improvements were made over the past year, especially concerning multiligualism.
IES collaborators Frédérique Lambrecht and Ruben Lombaert presented the E-learning tools created by the Institute and commented on the EUR-Lex system to see how it could be implemented in the modules. The idea of the E-modules is to assist students in acquiring skills and knowledge; implementing “how to search for EU information” teaching students how to use EUR-Lex effectively could be one of the future tasks.
Other contributors were Laurens Mommers (Legal Intelligence, Holland), Mathias Drachsler (University of Vienna) and Teija Törrö (University of Lapland). Organisers Erich Schweighofer (Univ. Vienna) and Anthony Antoine (IES) closed the session with a roundtable involving all participants.
Academic Director on the move
Dr. Sebastian Oberthür, Academic Director of the IES, attended two scientific conferences in October 2005 at which he presented two papers.
The 6th Open Meeting of the International Human Dimension Programme on Global Environmental Change (IHDP) was held in Bonn from 9-13 October 2005. Dr. Oberthür co-organised and chaired a panel on “Enhancing Compliance in Environmental Governance”, which comprised four presentations. His own contribution addressed the “Compliance Mechanisms of Modern International Environmental Agreements”. Most of these agreements establish particular committees mandated to address cases of non-compliance with treaty obligations. The paper in particular investigates the experience of the compliance mechanisms of the 1973 Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), the 1987 Montreal Protocol for the protection of the ozone layer, and the 1979 Geneva Convention on air pollution. It argues that these compliance mechanisms have performed better than one might expect given the absence of direct enforcement means. It also emphasises that assessing the effectiveness of these mechanisms requires taking into account not only their design features but also relevant framework conditions prevailing in the regime’s issue area. The analytical framework developed may be employed to analyse and assess the performance of related mechanisms of other international agreements. It also provides a tool for those involved in the design of these mechanisms (including the EU and its Member States) to assess the likely performance consequences of alternative design options. Dr. Oberthür is a member of the Scientific Steering Committee of the Institutional Dimensions of Global Environmental Change (IDGEC) project of the IHDP.
Complexity Theory and European Union Foreign Policy
On 2 December, the group, directed by Prof. Francis Heylighen, invited IES Researcher Mehmet Y. Tezcan and his promoter Prof. Dr. Gustaaf Geeraerts (Politics department) to present a paper on Complexity Theory and European Union Foreign Policy.
The presentation discussed three topics. In the first part, it conceptualized the European Political Cooperation (EPC) and Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) framework as a complex adaptive system of governance in European Union Foreign Policy (EU-FP). It then explains why it is so by employing conceptual tools of Complexity Theory (CT).
In the second part, the presentation turns to operationalizing Prof. Heylighen’s previous theoretical writings about self-organization and adaptivity in complex systems in the study of EU-FP. The theoretical writings of Prof. Heylighen, developed through empirical research in biology among other things, include two basic principles. The relational principle notes that phenomena can only exist in relation (connection or distinction) to other phenomena, and thus only make sense as part of a complex network. The evolutionary principle notes that variation through (re)combination of parts and natural selection of the fitter combinations results in ever more complex and adaptive systems. That is to say, any evolution process within a complex system is the outcome of an interplay between variation and selection. Obviously, these two correspond to the twin mechanisms of disintegration and of integration respectively that have been at work in the historical evolution of EU-FP. While integration pushes for the enhancement of internal order of the EU-FP system (hence for improvement of efficiency in EU’s foreign policy actions), disintegration sharpens the distinctiveness and separatedness of the subsystems (i.e., member states) of EU-FP system. Therefore, any EU-FP outcome should be explained as the result of interplay between these two mechanisms at work.
The last part of the presentation introduced Mehmet’s ongoing IES research project “How real is CFSP? A retroductive analysis of the EU’s actorness in world politics”. Following their presentation, Prof. Heylighen agreed to become a member of Mehmet’s doctoral committee.
IES Researcher Tezcan in Berlin
The German Council for Foreign Affairs (DGAP) organized
its 1st International Forum on Strategic Thinking on 11-13 November
2005 in Berlin, Germany. As an alumni of the International Summer School
on European Foreign and Security Policy, IES Researcher Mehmet Y. Tezcan
was invited to participate in the conference.
For more details on the conference, click here.
Visiting Fellows at the IES
Between October and December 2005, the IES organised a lecture series on “European Foreign and Security Policy after September 2001”. The aim of this lecture series was to explore the impact of 9/11 and the Western wars against ‘international terrorism’ and ‘rogue states’ on the conduct of European foreign and security policy and its underlying norms.
Prof. Smith argued that European Security Policy changed over the past decade to take into account the widening and deepening processes of the Union, and to include areas of activity that were not seen as security issues before. This “securitization” inevitably leads to the removal of accountability of certain areas of politics. Prof. Smith observed that national security strategies and “domestication” of foreign policy runs counter to the internationalisation that the EU by definition persues. This results in a paradox, in which the EU is moving to a real foreign and security policy, while simultaneously this policy is transformed and at the same time security and foreign policy become an integral force on the EU itself.
Talking on "China and the EU" on 13 October, Dr. Men Jing of Renmin University and Prof. Gustaaf Geeraerts of VUB's Politics Department gave a brief overview of the EU-China relations since the mid 1990s. Dr. Ming emphasized the strategic issues within the EU's engagement with China, and studied the American factor in the EU-China relations. She outlined the economic and strategic importance of the relationship.
On 20 October, the IES was delighted to welcome Dr Thierry Tardy to the lecture series. Dr Tardy is Director of the European Training Course at the Geneva Centre for Security Studies. In his talk “The doctrines of ‘preventive and pre-emptive’ action in EU and UN crisis management: is there an emerging consensus?”, he compared the concepts of traditional ‘conflict prevention’ and coercive ‘prevention’ or ‘pre-emption’. He argued that traditionally there had been a sharp distinction between the two in that ‘conflict prevention’ in EU and UN diplomatic practices was considered as implying non-coercive means whereas the concept of ‘preventive and pre-emptive action implies the use of coercive power. The latter concept was introduced after the events of September 11 2001 and came to be expressed in the US National Security Strategy of September 2002.
In his view the European Security Strategy (ESS) of 2003 combines these two concepts in a problematic manner. The lack of conceptual distinction between conflict prevention and pre-emptive actions is also present in the UN’s High Level Panel Report on Challenges, Threats and Change of December 2004 and in the UN Secretary-General’s report on Larger Freedom (September 2005).
Mr Tom Ruys, Researcher at the Institute for International Law at the University of Leuven, intervened as a discussant. In his view if actions are undertaken or authorized by the UN Security Council, the prevention issue is (legally) void of meaning. The Security Council is free to act reactively or proactively by means of enforcement measures or Chapter VII measures. The only task that it has to undertake is to determine that a ‘threat to peace’ exists (Art. 39 UN Charter). However, the legal framework is totally different if we deal with unilateral action undertaken by regional or sub-regional organizations or nation states. These entities are bound by the prohibition of the use of force under Article 2(4), with the exception of Article 51 of the UN Charter. In his view the controversy is about the unilateral use of force. Here we have the debates about humanitarian intervention, ‘Right to Protect’ and pre-emptive and preventive self-defense.
Dr Barbara Delcourt from the Institute of European Studies at the ULB challenged Dr Ortega’s understanding of the importance of the declaration on ‘Responsibility to Protect’ agreed at the UN Summit in September 2005. In her view there is no international customary law that justifies this new doctrine. The declaration is purely of a political nature and is part of a strategy to foster consensus on a very divisive issue that challenges the principle of equality between sovereign states. Indeed, in her view the doctrine is contrary to the principles of the UN Charter. She argued that the EU is supporting this doctrine in order to create a new norm with the long-term aim of legalizing it. This process is contrary to basic principles of international law.
On 3 November 2005, Dr Hooman Peimani, Senior Research Fellow, Centre for International Cooperation and Security (CICS), University of Bradford, UK, gave a lecture entitled ‘The new US administration’s Iranian policy’ and Mr Björn Larsson from the Council of the European Union (General Secretariat to the Secretary-General/High Representative, Policy Planning and Early Warning Unit, Middle East Task Force) gave a presentation on ‘EU-Iran policy since September 2001’.
Analyzing the US administration’s policy towards Iran prior to September 2001, Dr. Peimani argued that in the 1990s, US policy was to isolate Iran both politically and economically, e.g. by preventing the country from gaining membership of the World Trade Organisation.
However, since September 2001, the US has modified its strategy towards central Asia. In Heimani’s view the Bush Administration used the pretext of the terrorist attacks of 9/11 in order to accelerate a process of expansion into the region. Dr Peimani argued that the decision to attack Iraq needed to be situated in the broader context of a desire on the part of the US to have military control over Central Asia because of its geo-strategic importance and richness in oil and gas supplies.
However, since 9/11 there have been renewed sources of tensions: human rights, Israel-Palestine, the nuclear issue, claims that Iran is involved in supporting terrorist groups in Iraq and elsewhere, and Iranian counterclaims that British and US forces are supporting armed insurgents in Iran.
Dr Peimani concentrated his analysis on outlining the emergence of the nuclear issue in EU-US-Iranian relations. He maintained that American allegations of Tehran’s pursuit of a nuclear weapons program are not something new. In fact, they have been around since the early 1980s and they are part of a propaganda campaign on the part of the US government. In his view, the diplomatic efforts undertaken by Britain, France and Germany on behalf of the EU on the nuclear issue over the past two years have strengthened the propaganda campaign emanating from Washington.
Mr Larsson argued that prior to 9-11, Khatami’s new reform-oriented policy allowed the EU to re-engage but that this re-engagement was very limited. The EU objectives were to encourage political and economic reforms and make progress on identified issues of concern. After September 2001, the European Council decided to strengthen relations with Iran. It focused on entering into a Trade Cooperation Agreement (TCA). After Iran was identified as one of the ‘rogue states’ in George W. Bush’s ‘Axis of evil’ speech of January 2002, the EU increased its diplomatic track. The TCA negotiations started in the second half of 2002 while the nuclear issues increased in importance.
Mr Larsson emphasized that the European approach towards Iran is based on the long-term objective of real political and economic reform along with the promotion of a more moderate Iranian foreign policy. The European Union wants to create a strong Iranian middle class and liberalise the economy. The EU is concerned about the following issues in its relationship with Iran: political reform, human rights, Weapons of Mass Destruction (WDM); terrorism; Iran’s attitude toward Middle Eastern issues, particularly the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; Regional issues: Afghanistan, Iraq and the Persian Gulf.
In contrast to Mr Peimani’s analysis of the nuclear issue, Mr Larsson believed that US statements with regards to Iran’s nuclear ambitions are not part of a propaganda campaign but rather are legitimate concerns that are based on reliable intelligence sources. He defended the EU’s record in the negotiations and argued that the negative developments on the nuclear issue are to be blamed on the Iranians’ decision to restart uranium conversion in August 2005. The Iranian government was at fault at rejecting the European comprehensive proposal for long-term arrangements.
On 10 November, Dr Alexander Stutzmann and Dr Stefan Krauss (European Parliament) both discussed the “European strategies towards the Arab world after the Iraq crisis”. Dr Krauss argued that the events of September 2001 cannot be considered a key break in the patterns of world politics in that the events contributed to accelerating trends that had already been present since the end of the Cold War. Those trends included the erosion of traditional patterns of political power and the rising of new actors. At the same time, many issues such as North-South relations, environmental concerns, development and conflict resolution in Africa and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict remained unchanged. 9/11 added an increased focus on the Islamic/Arab world and this regional focus is one of the central concerns of Western nations in their ‘fight against terrorism’.
Dr Alexander Stutzmann argued that the Iraq crisis forced European member states and EU institutions to review their policies towards the Middle East, the EU’s in particular being based on a fragmented strategy. However, in his assessment, since the Iraq war of 2003, closer levels of cooperation have been established between the US and the EU in some of their policies towards the Middle East.
Prof. Sven Biscop (Royal Institute for International Relations / University of Ghent) acted as a discussant, and agreed with Dr Krauss that the end of the Cold War was the watershed event in international relations and not 9/11. In his view the major threat is not terrorism but intra-state conflict. Dr Biscop highlighted the difficulties in imposing conditionality -clauses on Middle Eastern countries. Although the ultimate objective of the EU is to democratise the Middle East, European governments are fearful of the potential destabilising consequences that such processes might unleash.
On 17 November, Prof. David Chandler (Centre for the Study of Democracy, Westminster University, London) argued that despite the fact that the international administration in Bosnia-Herzegovina (BiH) is being fundamentally reshaped, these changes do not represent a step forward for Bosnian self-government. He historically traced the different forms of international administration that came to be established in BiH after the end of the wars and the signature of the Dayton Agreement in 1995, and argued that the Dayton Agreement was based on flexible principles that allowed external powers, such as the EU and the UN, to permanently postpone any transition of governance to the Bosnian people. Dayton did not establish a protectorate, as was the case in Kosovo and East Timor. Rather, the treaty of Dayton was based on a fiction of ‘local consent’ in that international actors were invited to oversee Dayton and to install the temporary post-conflict administrative mechanism of the Office of High Representative (OHR).
Prof. Chandler described the Dayton Peace agreement as unlike any other peace treaty of modern times, not merely because it was imposed by powers formally external to the conflict, but because of the far-reaching powers given to international actors, which extended well beyond military matters to cover the most basic aspects of government and state. Between 1995 and 1997, the international administration decided to prolong indefinitely its powers and the Peace Implementation Council (PIC), the international body responsible for governance of BiH which included 55 countries and international organisations, began to transfer its direct regulatory control to the European Union. At the same time, it extended the powers of the Office of the High Representative , the so-called ‘Bonn powers’. These enabled the High Representative to dismiss elected representative and government officials held to be obstructing the OHR’s task of implementing the Dayton Agreement. In March 2000, the EU announced a Road Map as a first step for the BiH to become a member of the EU, through the Stabilization and Association Process (SAP).
In Prof. Chandler’s view the prospect of EU membership will not fundamentally change the pattern of external regulation of the BiH. In his analysis, BiH is today administered directly through the ad hoc mechanisms institutionalized under the powers of the EU Special Representative, and policy-making is essentially the preserve of Brussels, implemented with the assistance of the EU-funded and advised Directorate for European Integration. The policy-input allowed for Bosnian representatives is purely consultational, through hand-picked and internationally managed special commissions.
Prof Chandler argued that the current plans to phase out some of the High Representative’s powers to impose legislation and dismiss elected representatives and to create a stronger central government will not make BiH a liberal democracy. This is because the reforms have been planned in Brussels and Washington purely because of the embarrassment that the role of the High Representative has caused internationally. In other words, it is about making external regulation more subtle but not less invasive.
In Prof. Chandler’s analysis developments in BiH are symptomatic of a broader trend that has been strengthened by the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the ‘new wars on terror’. This trend points to an undermining of state sovereignty that was most evident in the humanitarian wars of the 1990s and the wars against Afghanistan and Iraq launched in 2001 and 2003 respectively. The EU’s involvement in the Balkans is also part of this trend in that the EU is becoming a key actor in ‘state-building’. Another example of this trend is evident in how international organisations, such as the International Monetary Fund, are imposing extensive internal regulations through their programmes for ‘state capacity’. Such plans, far from reinforcing indigenous capacity for self-government, undermine the ability of less developed societies to achieve economic growth and political independence.
Discussant Mr Dirk Lange (European Commission, Head of Unit Bosnia-Herzegovina and Albania) criticized Prof. Chandler’s analysis by emphasizing that the EU is promoting democracy in BiH through its policies and programmes and that the current changes under discussion will represent a move towards Bosnian political independence. By reforming the role of Paddy Ashdown as EU Special Representative, the European Union is demonstrating its ability to rethink its relationship with BiH. Mr Lange challenged Prof. Chandler to demonstrate how the European Commission was involved in imposing external regulation given the limited resources that his department had at its disposal. He argued that the inclusion of BiH and other countries in the western Balkans in the EU enlargement process will bring peace, prosperity and stability to the region.
Although some observers point to Operation Artemis, the ‘peace-enforcement’ operation in the Democratic Republic of Congo that the EU undertook in September 2003, as representing a change in EU policy towards sub-Saharan Africa, Dr Olsen stressed that this operation was an exception and is unlikely to be easily repeated. Similarly, he argued that the African Peace Facility, established in November 2003, is part of a long-standing commitment by the EU to development assistance and does not represent a break from the past.EU officials have slightly modified their stance towards crisis management in Africa by supporting the involvement of the Africa Union in Darfur (Sudan) but this change is not related to concerns about international terrorism.
Acting as a discussant, Christian Manahl (European Council, General Secretariat, Policy Planning and Early Warning Unit, “Task Force Africa”) argued that throughout the Cold War period there was a creed in the European Union that development policy was not to be subordinated to foreign policy. This creed began to change with the end of the Cold War and was evident in the new debate about the relationship between aid, human rights, democratisation and good governance, what is also known as a process of ‘politicisation of aid’. More recently, security has become linked to development and this can be seen in the ‘Africa Peace Facility’ in that development aid is now being used to finance military operations. He agreed with Dr Olsen that the EU is unlikely to engage in peace-enforcement operations on the model of Artemis. In his view the model of operation Amis (Darfur/Sudan) is more likely to be repeated in other African crisis management situations.
On 8 December, Dr Ståle Ulriksen of the Norwegian Institute for International Affairs lectured on “The ‘new wars’ following 9/11: comparing European approaches”. He analysed the extent to which the events of 9/11 have caused a major change in military policy in Europe. In his view, the events of 9/11 have contributed to accelerating a shift in paradigms in military thinking that was already present in the 1990s.
By analysing the changes in the tasks of the military, we can understand the paradigmatic shift that is underway. In the 1990s the tasks of the military were: territorial defence, stabilisation and rapid response. The task of territorial defence is becoming less important and is being transformed into tasks related to ‘national defence against terrorism’. Hence resources have been moved from the military forces to police and intelligence activities. The tasks of stabilisation and rapid response are assuming more importance in military policy. This is evident in the current levels of European military engagements in the world (Balkans, Afghanistan, Iraq, Asia etc). The changes in military policy in Europe are also evident in the creation of a ‘directoire’, which could also be described as a ‘European Defence Council’, of leading military powers that shapes military policy. This ‘directoire’ includes countries such as France, Britain, Germany, Italy and other small-size countries.
Prof. Bruno Coppieters (VUB) who acted as discussant emphasised the importance of analysing military policy in the context of changes in ‘strategic cultures’ in Europe and in the United States. He provided an overview of some of the key questions running through the lecture series by analysing the extent to which EU foreign policy was substantially modified by the events of 9/11 and the launching of the ‘war on terror’. His main argument was that 9/11 did not substantially change EU foreign policies towards certain regions (e.g Balkans, Africa, China) and there was more continuity in EU foreign policy in areas in which the European Commission was involved. However, we are witnessing a substantial modification in EU strategic culture in that certain principles about the use of force and principles related to the human rights of prisoners and migrants, along with changes in security policies, are not sufficiently debated in the public domain.
Professor Cox pointed out that scholars have been wrong on many occasions about key historical events: the end of the Cold War, the future of China and the failure to anticipate the terrorist attacks of 9/11. This can be explained by an inherent international conservatism: a tendency to think that the patterns of the past will be those of the future. Scholars have underestimated the quality of the changes in the relationship because they misread the history of the1990s.
Prof. Cox identified some of these key changes. In the past, the transatlantic relationship was an idea that shaped the notion of the West. This is why the US and Europe came to be identified as a region and why there were talks of a ‘security community’. But the end of the Cold War had a profound impact on the coherence of the West. In his view, during the 1990s there was an overoptimistic view of the nature of the transatlantic relationship. This perspective had some grounds because NATO did manage to survive and there was a deepening of economic integration in the transatlantic area in terms of trade and foreign direct investment. In fact, in the 1990s, Europe invested heavily in the US. For these reasons, scholars and policy-makers were ill prepared, both politically and intellectually, for the crisis that unfolded.
Prof. Cox challenged the current interpretation of the transatlantic crisis. Most commentators argue that Bush’s first term in office represented the deepest moment in the rift and to maintain that we are now in a process of mending bridges and returning to a solid transatlantic relationship. Hence commentators point to changes since the 2nd Bush Administration and US senior officials’ frequent visits to Europe as representing an acceptance in certain powerful sections of the US establishment that European allies might have been right in their opposition to the Iraq war.
In his view, they are wrong in this analysis for a number of reasons. There is a failure to understand that the row over the war against Iraq was not just an isolated event but rather is both the cause and symptom of deeper trends. In Prof. Cox’s view, we are at present working through the impact of the end of the Cold War. The ‘war on terror’ cannot “unite” the West as anti-communism did in the Cold War period.
Another reason for the importance of the current crisis in the transatlantic relationship is that the Cold War privileged Europe in the eyes of US policy makers. Hence, in the Cold War period, there was a high US military commitment to European security. For the US, Europe was central to its own security and defence. Today, this US perception no longer exists. We are therefore witnessing a sharp decline in US military presence in Europe and the Bush Administration has made a conscious decision no longer to make NATO a central institution in US defence strategy. NATO is relegated to undertaking tasks that are considered less vital to US security interests.
There are also significant transatlantic differences about the threat of terrorism. The events of 9/11 led to a redefinition of US military posture. The US government responded to the terrorist attacks by embarking on new wars and at present the United States remains at war. For the US government international terrorism represents a threat that is comparable to that of Fascism and Communism. It is this perception that can explain the measures taken abroad and at home since 9/11. Europe is not at war. Europe does not view the threat of terrorism in the same way as the United States. This is evident in the reaction to the terrorist attacks in Madrid (March 11th 2004) and London (July 7th 2005). It is also apparent in other issues: the way in which US officials made a connection between states and terrorism, whereas Europeans refused to unite around this perception; the way in which US officials believe that the situation prior to 9/11 in the Middle East is the cause of international terrorism and therefore have embarked on a radical policy review that endorses regime change throughout the region, whereas Europeans are more reluctant to endorse such radical review process. The deep nature of the crisis is also evident in the level of anti-Americanism that is now present in Europe, not just in sections of the elites and the media but also among the public in many European countries, including Britain.
In his conclusion, Prof. Cox stressed that there is not going to be an easy return to a normal transatlantic relationship. The current tensions over Iran, human rights etc are more likely to intensify in the immediate future and the disintegration of the world system will continue. Europe has a duty to hold on to the principles that shape the liberal order: international law, respect for human rights etc and needs to become united around these principles.
Mr Patrice Dabos (NATO Public Diplomacy
Division) challenged Prof. Cox’s arguments on a number of grounds.
He argued that the current divisions are creating new opportunities
for reshaping the transatlantic relationship and this will make Europe
less dependent on the United States. This is positive development in
the transatlantic relationship that will most likely help reinvigorate
it. He questioned the level of anti-Americanism that Prof. Cox identified
as a feature of the current crisis and argued that NATO remains crucial
to the US, particularly in the political realm. He doubted Prof. Cox’s
assessment that the London bombings have not moved Europeans closer
to US perceptions about the ‘war on terrorism’.
Meanwhile, the IES also engaged in the EC-approved 6th framework project “Environmental policy integration and multi-level governance” (EPIGOV - project leader: Ecologic / Germany).
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