European military deployment: making sense of the EU member states’ varying military engagements

CRIATHaesbblog

When looking at the turmoil swirling around Europe’s immediate and wider neighbourhood, one can only conclude that military operations will, in all likelihood, continue to be a necessary instrument to protect the interests of the EU member states. Moreover, as has become blatantly clear after the election of Trump, the United States will be less and less willing to assume a leading role in operations in and around Europe. In consequence, the member states will be more and more required to meet demands for military crisis management themselves. Operations where one member state is willing and able to successfully conduct the operation with minimal support from the rest of the EU will probably not become the standard for European military interventions. In consequence, Europeans will need to collaborate to foster sufficient resources to meet the continuous demand for military crisis management.

The pattern of European military deployments in the post-Cold War period provides both reasons for optimism and concern on whether or not such cooperation will be possible in the near future. On the plus side, the EU member states have been far less reluctant to deploy military force than their image as a civilian[1] or soft[2] power suggests. In fact, between 20,000 and 80,000 European troops have been deployed outside of their home country for most of the last two decades. Moreover, the bulk of the member states’ armed forces was deployed alongside troops from other member states. Almost every EU member made a substantial contribution to three of the most significant operations involving European forces: the NATO-led Stabilisation Force and Kosovo Force that are deployed in the Former Yugoslavia and the ISAF-operation in Afghanistan.

However, other operations revealed strong differences between the member states willingness to deploy military force. The 2003 Iraq War exposed the deepest divisions amongst the EU members. While member states like France, Germany and Belgium vehemently opposed the intervention, Denmark, Poland, the UK and many other member states provided strong military support to the United States. Eight years later, the air campaign over Libya again revealed significant differences between the member states. While France and the UK took the lead of the international coalition that would eventually cause the fall of the Qaddafi regime, other key member states like Poland and Germany did not deploy any military assets in support of the air campaign. Likewise, the majority of troops deployed in the 2006 CSDP operation in Congo was provided by France and Germany, while the UK only participated with two staff officers in this operation. Two years later, both Germany and the UK decided not to contribute to EUFOR Chad, in which small member states Ireland and Austria participated with 400 and 180 troops respectively.

The scholarly literature on military burden sharing, third-party intervention in civil war, peacekeeping operations and democratic peace offers a wide range of plausible explanations for the member states’ varying levels of military engagement. While collective-action-based explanations draw attention to the differing military capabilities of the member states, explanations inspired by realist theories emphasize their varying interests and alliance relations with the United States. Other strands of academic research suggest that member states whose resources are already stretched thin by other deployments will refrain from new military engagements or that whether a state has a tradition of participating in United Nations peacekeeping operations is crucial for their future military commitments. Theories of domestic politics, in turn, highlight the importance of electoral cycles and institutional constraints on decision-makers, such as parliamentary veto power or constitutional restrictions. Lastly, in contrast to the adagio that politics stops at the water’s edge, the ideological composition of the member states’ governments also provides a plausible explanation for their differing military commitments.

An analysis presented in a recent article in CRIA examined which of the aforementioned conditions explain the pattern of member state contributions to five recent military operations: EUFOR Congo, UNIFIL II, EUFOR Chad, the 2011 military intervention in Libya and the air strikes against the self-proclaimed Islamic State. The results of this study indicate that the availability of military resources was of crucial importance, but only resulted in actual contributions if a member state either had a high level of trade with the wider region in which the operation took place or a tradition of participating in UN peacekeeping operations and the operation was deployed in support of the UN peacekeeping system. However, the operation against Islamic State deviates from this general pattern. Member states participated in the strike operations if a large number of foreign fighters to the terrorist group and domestic legal rules did not prohibit participation.

More generally, the results of the study show that the pattern of member state participation in military operations is not entirely random, nor determined by unsteady domestic conditions. Instead, varying capabilities and expected benefits explain most of the member states’ differing patterns of military participation in the operations under investigation. This suggests great potential for closer cooperation in the development of military capabilities. Increased cooperation and specialization in capability terms yields benefits in financial and capability terms but comes at the price of reduced national autonomy, since each member states’ ability to conduct operations would depend on its partners’ willingness to grant access to their capabilities.[4] However, the conclusion that military participation is mostly determined by capabilities and relatively stable conditions like peacekeeping tradition and regional trade interests suggests that it should be possible for the member states to find reliable partners for far-reaching cooperation and specialization in security and defence policy.

[1] Moravcsik, Andrew (2009) ‘Europe: The quiet superpower’, French politics, 7:3, 403-22 (URL: https://www.princeton.edu/~amoravcs/library/french_politics.pdf)

[2] Giegerich, Bastian and Wallace, William (2004) ‘Not such a soft power: the external deployment of European forces’, Survival, 46:2, 163-82 (URL: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/00396330412331343713)

[4] Giegerich, Bastian and Nicoll, Alexander (2012) ‘The Struggle for Value in European Defence’, Survival, 54:1, 53-82 (URL: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00396338.2012.657537

Dr Tim Haesebrouck is a post-doctoral researcher at Ghent University, Belgium. He finished his PhD on European military operations in 2016. His research interests include military intervention, defence burden sharing, the Responsibility to Protect, and the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy. His work has been published in Journal of Conflict Resolution, Foreign Policy Analysis, Journal of European Public Policy and Cambridge Review of International Affairs.

His article ‘EU member state participation in military operations: a configurational comparative analysis’ was published online by CRIA here

Continue Reading

The terror of transparency

As I exit customs and walk into the concourse area of the airport I am greeted by familiar sounds and images. The departure terminal appears in front of me as a patchwork of restaurants, cafés and shops. Walking towards the duty free area my body absorbs the sounds of carts, moving walkways, boarding calls and passengers in transit. This could be any major international airport. I glance at the blue sky through the transparent ceiling while moving towards a virtual map. The map plots out the terminal in detail: anodyne shops and restaurants, kid’s lounge areas, a yoga studio, prayer rooms, a barber shop, and other amenities filling every digital interstice. I view myself (“you are here”) in relation to the display. The self-referential and sterile terminal-world that unfolds is structured according to the logic of algorithms and indexes of consumer patterns. It is a microcosm surrounding me, in which everything is visible, tangible, interconnected and given.

Being at the airport reminds me of French philosopher Jean Baudrillard’s insistence that the global subject lives in an era marked by a “terror” of transparency. As he wrote on Centre Pompidou, its see-through interior and interactive flowchart milieus indicate a space of control articulated by total visibility. Arguably, his critique precedes our era: from GPS to Google maps, from TripAdvisor to Instagram surveillance; from Tinder-dating to the biopolitics of MyFitnessPal, the world we live in is gradually losing whatever veil it once had. The students in my war studies courses speak nostalgically about the 1980’s, an era they take as indicative of a world that was not comprehensively mapped up and known – a world in which travel implied the possibility of getting lost. As I stare at the interactive terminal map at the airport I can see their point: we live in a world of measurability and predictability. Thanks to technology, we struggle to get lost.

I stroll past World Duty Free to the sound of news imagery from last night’s US strikes in Syria. Footage of the aftermath of cruise missiles tearing up Syrian army bases pulsate alongside commercials. There are significant differences between the interior ambience of an airport and the logics of war but there are also common denominators. Much like the airport, war is socially invested and coded. If we take the time to read military doctrines we notice organisational practices aiming to create war as an operational and efficient microcosm. The military architecture, much like the flowchart of the airport, helps to socially construct the world around us. As the footage from Syria illustrates, this is not a discrete battle-space. Rather, the military microcosm impinges on our world as an ever-expanding ‘area of operations’ demarcated and striated by military camps, lines of communication, ideas of range, trajectories, and logistics. In so doing it unfolds according to the duration of a predictable “battle rhythm” that strives to coordinate, prepare, and execute warfare in a universal military time-zone (“zulu time”).

As the bombings in Syria indicate, ours is a time characterised by ‘Global Strike’ – the military capability to strike wherever, whenever – from a distance. The military architecture is an embodiment of the hunter’s view; an ever-increasing visibility and better and better imagery of the future battle-field. War is all about fantasies of transparency. Its microcosm is controlled according to strict logics that analyse when “something is out of the ordinary”, monitors and deduces large-scale patterns of life, enters them into plot-sheets so as to anticipate actions and erase future threats in real-time.

The path along the airport is predetermined and fulfilled. The interior that surrounds me has no potential for becoming differently There is no wondering what will be around the corner. Thanks to the “terror” of transparency and total visibility, we might never get lost again. I stare indifferently as the imagery of Tomahawks replay once again on the screens next to me; a feedback loop. “You are here” the digital map at the airport tells me.

Dan Öberg is Associate Professor of War Studies, Department of Military Science, Swedish Defence University, Stockholm, and a STINT visiting professor at Tokyo University. His current research and teaching focus on war and warfare from a critical perspective. His recent publications include research articles in Millennium Journal of International Studies, International Journal of Baudrillard Studies, and Journal of Narrative Politics.

His recent article ‘War, transparency and control: the military architecture of operational warfare’ was published online by CRIA here

Continue Reading

Studying small states in international security affairs: a quantitative analysis

The international security architecture of today has incrementally evolved through numerous international negotiations taking place in a broad variety of international organisations and regimes. Over time, this has led to a large body of international security rules and norms, covering a wide range of different security issues, such as nuclear weapons and non-proliferation, arms trade, disarmament, interventions, conflict resolution or peace-building. Thus, multilateral negotiations provide crucial building blocks for the current international security architecture.

Despite the great importance of international security negotiations for international security practices, there is little comparative scholarly work on the negotiation dynamics across a variety of different contexts and between many different state actors. My article “Studying small states in international security affairs: a quantitative analysis” seeks to fill this gap. It studies dynamics of 100 different international security negotiations and examines differences in the participation of states. To this end, it addresses the general questions: How vocal are states in international security negotiations? Are some rather silent while others participate more actively despite the fact that voicing a national position is important to make a mark? The paper also addresses the specific question whether and if so why smaller states differ from larger states in how they act in international security negotiations.

International security negotiations take place in a variety of different context. This encompasses two of the UN’s six principle organs, the first committee of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA-C1) and the Security Council (SC), as well as several international organisations and regimes created and subsumed under the UN umbrella, such as the ATT regime and the Conference on Disarmament (CD), Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). In 100 negotiations taking place between 2008 and 2012, coding of the records (in verbatim protocols, minutes, press releases) captures how often each state speaks up in a negotiation. This reveals that there is considerable variation in the extent to which states participate in negotiating international security rules and norms.

On average a state spoke up 36.29% of the time. The most vocal countries are the U.S. (204 speeches), Iran (188 speeches), Russia (166 speeches), France (157 speeches), the UK (137 speeches), Pakistan (135 speeches), Brazil (130 speeches), and Canada (129 speeches). On the other end of the spectrum, countries such as the Republic of Congo, Greece, Mali, and Mozambique made only five speeches each and the Central African Republic, Tajikistan, Tuvalu, Benin, or Kiribati even remained totally silent. The fact that some countries voice positions very often, while others remain completely silent in international security negotiations is puzzling for several reasons. First, in these contexts the international security architecture is negotiated, which is important for all states. Second, actively participating in international security negotiations is not only an expression of state sovereignty, but also a means to influence the shape of the international security architecture. Hence, all states should be motivated to actively participate in the international organisations and regimes that deal with international security issues.

In order to explain the puzzling variation between how active states are in international security negotiations, the paper distinguishes between capacity and incentives as driving forces of state activity. The empirical examination of the plausibility of the hypotheses through a combination of quantitative regression analysis and narrative interview evidence reveals that – in line with realism – smaller states are indeed often less vocal when it comes to negotiating international security. Yet, unlike realism, this activity gap between smaller and larger states is not only due to power differences, but also differences in financial capacities. Smaller states have slimmer budgets for the Ministries of Foreign Affairs (MFA) in their capitals and for the negotiation teams at the headquarters of the international security organisations or the international security regimes. Thus, unlike larger states, smaller states are more often confronted with situations in which the cannot actively participate in international security negotiations, either because the MFA was not quick enough to develop national positions for all ongoing issues and send negotiation instructions to the diplomats at the international negotiation table, or because the number of diplomats the small state has posted to the international negotiation arena is too small to cover all ongoing negotiations. The article shows that not only political and financial capacities matter, but incentives as well. States with strong incentives in military affairs are more active in international security negotiations, while smaller and poorer states are more likely to shelter under the security umbrella of larger counterparts instead of getting active themselves.

However, smaller states can punch above their weights and become active in international security negotiations, but this requires adjustments. Smaller states have fewer capacities and cannot cover all international negotiation issues to the same extent and with the same intensity as larger and richer states. Yet, smaller states can revisit their priorities and adjust them when need be in order to free resources from other negotiations in order to closely follow international security negotiations.

Diana Panke holds the Chair in ‘Multi-Level Governance’ at University of Freiburg. Her research interests include international negotiations, multilateral diplomacy, comparative regionalism, small states in international affairs, European Union politics as well as compliance and legalisation. In these fields, she has published several monographs and journal articles (including BJPIR, RIO, IPSR, EJIR, CPS, Cooperation and Conflict, Millennium, JCMS, JEPP, WEP, JEP and International Politics).

 

Continue Reading

EU visa liberalization, Eastern Partnership countries and Russia: challenges and outcomes

 

In recent years, the massive inflow of refugees to the European Union has conspicuously exposed the crucial role of neighbouring countries in migration flows to the EU, either as countries of origin (as has been the case for Syria over the past few years) or transit for migrants on their way to Europe. Therefore, while the EU pursues its migration policy worldwide, it places a particular emphasis on its eastern and southern fringes.

The EU seeks to act as a driver of change in its vicinity to prevent the emergence of ‘new dividing lines’ across the continent and simultaneously ‘reinforcing stability and security’ in adjacent areas (European Neighbourhood Policy created in 2004). For post-Soviet countries, a visa-free regime is the biggest incentive that the EU can offer in the short-term. Therefore, it constitutes a powerful EU leverage over the reform process in countries like Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova or Armenia. Visa liberalization has also emerged as a prominent issue in the agenda of cooperation with Russia. Until cooperation was frozen in response to the annexation of Crimea and Russia’s actions in eastern Ukraine, EU actors shared the view that the visa dialogue is a long-term process and an opportunity per se to raise issues related to human rights and democracy with their Russian counterparts.

While visa liberalization is a major expectation of Eastern neighbours, the EU’s visa policy is fraught with tensions between two potentially competing objectives: on the one hand, the transformation of the partner countries through the promotion of core values (such as the rule of law, democracy and human rights) and people-to-people contacts; and on the other hand, the pursuance of the EU’s security interests in its neighbourhood, that has emerged as a buffer zone playing a crucial role in keeping the irregular migrants outside the EU’s borders.

In essence, the EU’s policy mirrors a (potentially swinging) pendulum between normative and security drivers. Intra-EU dynamics (in particular, EU actors’ preferences and bargaining among them) frame the initial balance between normative and security objectives in the formulation of the visa liberalization agenda. Whereas for the European Parliament and eastern EU member states this agenda should be used to transform Eastern partners and to scrutinize human rights compliance, some other EU member states (e.g. France and the Netherlands) prioritize security issues. In light of the differences between other EU actors (especially within the Council), the technical and monitoring role of the Commission is pivotal, especially at key stages of the visa liberalization.

However, while the substance of EU demands predominantly mirrors security concerns, interaction with the partner countries and adjustments to the regional context have significantly altered the balance between normative and security objectives by triggering a shift towards the former. Since 2014, the EU has indeed used the visa liberalization process as a major instrument to sanction Russia’s actions in Ukraine in violation of international law. With Eastern Partnership countries like Georgia and Ukraine, the EU (whatever the security concerns raised by its member states) has been cautious about not delaying further the visa liberalization process, as this would entail huge political costs for the elites and may undermine support for European integration in the partner countries. This interplay calls for analysing EU external policies as dynamic processes that are shaped through shifting interactions between EU actors and third countries.

_

Sandra Fernandes is Assistant Professor at the University of Minho in the Department of International Relations and Public Administration (School of Economics and Management). She is Deputy-Director of the Department, Head of the BA in International Relations and Head of the MA in International Relations. She is also a full member of the Research Center of Political Science [CICP] at UMinho. Her research interests are in the field of international relations with a focus on European Studies, Post-Soviet Studies, EU-Russia relations, Foreign Policy Analysis and Security Studies. She is a specialist on Europe-Russia political and security relations.

Laure Delcour is scientific coordinator and research fellow of the EU FP7 CASCADE project at the Fondation Maison des Sciences de l’Homme. Her research interests focus on the diffusion and reception of EU norms, policy and institutional templates in the Eastern neighbourhood and on region-building in the post-Soviet area. She is currently a Principal investigator under a French-UK (ANR-ESRC) research project analysing the EU’s influence on domestic change in the Eastern neighbourhood. She is also a Visiting Professor at the College of Europe (EU International Relations Department).

Their recent article ‘Visa liberalization processes in the EU’s Eastern neighbourhood: understanding policy outcomes’ was published online by CRIA here

Continue Reading

Of Military Coups, Purges and Interventions: Turkey’s Syria Dilemma

 

On the evening of 15th July 2016, I landed in Istanbul and crossed the buzzing capital to embark a ferry that took me a few miles away to the beautiful island Büyükada, to participate in a two-day workshop organized by the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars together with the Global Political Trends Center, Kültür University in Istanbul. The topic of discussions was Iran’s relations with its neighbours one year after the nuclear agreement made with P5+1. Cruising the Bosphorus in spectacular sunset in the company of two Turkish ladies met on their way to visit their family, little did I know that a military coup was in the making…let alone that the workshop’s participants would be accused of staging it. That same evening, after receiving messages from relatives inquiring about military operations in Turkey, I tuned into the few channels available in the hotel and watched in bewilderment as President Erdoğan issued an appeal over FaceTime for people to take the streets and oppose the putschists. During the night, muezzins in the mosques relayed the call for public mobilization. Police cars and navy gathered massively on the island.

After the failed attempt, I spent a few days in Istanbul. In the city, the feeling of national unity was overwhelming. I tweeted about the impressive mobilization at Taksim Square where thousands of pro-Justice and Development Party (AKP, Adalet ve Kalkinma Partisi) crowds mingled with secularists and far-right nationalists. Syrian refugees waved the flag of the Syrian revolution to celebrate the failure to topple the government that offered them asylum.

A few weeks later, a pro-Erdoğan newspaper published an article on how ‘US-sponsored conspirators’ had gathered on Büyükada to plot the coup. They were talking about our policy workshop (!), which was significantly less exciting. They had it all figured out. After all, Büyükada was the island where the British government conspired in 1919! Now, the US government was doing what the British had done nearly a century ago. Actually, workshop participants were not predominantly from the US but from the region (Afghanistan, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Turkey). A few were former diplomats and the majority were scholars and think tank experts from the Woodrow Wilson Center, the International Crisis Group and the European Council on Foreign Relations.

Being accused of both plotting a military coup and being an agent of foreign powers was very serious for me. Although the allegations were sufficiently outlandish for them to gain any real traction, I took great offence as a citizen and academic from the region. Throughout my career, I’ve made a point to preserve my professional and moral integrity and maintain my independence from state agencies inside and outside the region. But none of this had any value whatsoever in confronting the newspapers. No matter how I tried, I could not get the Turkish press to retract the allegations or publish my statement.

On a broader level, this coup initiated a two-fold reaction on the part of the Turkish government. Domestically, Erdoğan initiated a massive campaign against alleged Gulenists, targeting any individual suspected of dissent. It made no difference that many of our Turkish colleagues present at the workshop were Erdoğan sympathizers; one even wrote a weekly column for Karar, a renowned pro-AKP newspaper. They were interrogated and publicly shamed; and until this day, several of them remain suspended from their position.

One month later, on August 24th 2016, Erdoğan sent his army along with Free Syrian Army fighters into Syrian territory. This military intervention came after five years of troubled relations with the Southern neighbour. Syria and Turkey used to boast about their ‘common destiny, history and future’. The mutual relation transformed from enmity in the 1990s to détente in the early 2000s, grew into amity after AKP’s rise to power in 2002, and reverted back to enmity in the aftermath of the Syrian uprising. In the process, Syria and Turkey’s ‘special’ relation collapsed. After March 2011, the Syrian crisis morphed into full-blown violence, adding to the immense death toll, the number of wounded civilians, massive human displacement inside and outside the country, and unprecedented levels of physical and cultural destruction. Since then, the Syrian regime lost control of wide swathes of its territory to Kurds, Islamist opposition fighters and, after 2013, to Jihadists from the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). During this time, Turkey experienced increased turbulence on its territory. The conflict led to an influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees, an emboldened Kurdish militant movement, which spread from its remote mountains to the heart of South-Eastern cities such as Diyarbakir and Cizre, and which was re-empowered by the proclamation in November 2013 of Western Kurdistan (Rojava) in Northern and North-Eastern Syria, as well as cross-border operations perpetrated by ISIS.

According to Turkish scholars met in the workshop, Erdoğan’s new foreign policy was motivated by the twin domestic threats of ISIS and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). In previous months, Turkey pursued a parallel military and diplomatic strategy: to increase military support to Syrian opposition groups in the northern Aleppo province to counter the Kurdish (PYD/YPG)-led and US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF); to seek new international partners by mending relations with Russia. By launching direct military operations, Turkey sought to weaken the Kurds as America’s main security partner in northern Syria.

Internationally, the coup prompted the activation of meetings between Erdoğan and Putin. This rapprochement with Russia, Assad’s main ally, initiated a change in Turkey’s official language and approach to the Syrian regime. For the first time since 2011, an official statement called for the participation of Syrian leadership in future negotiation processes. The future of Syria was discussed at the end January 2017 in Astana (Kazakhstan) between Turkey, Iran and Russia – so far with no significant breakthrough between the selected Syrian representatives at the table. It is yet too early to assess whether these recent foreign policy re-alignments, combined with strategic developments linked to the recapture of Aleppo by the Syrian Government thanks to Russia, Iran, Iraq and Hizbullah’s support, will initiate a new chapter in Turkey and Syria’s relations, and what consequences lie ahead for Syrian opposition groups and refugees in Turkey. But the consequences are far-reaching. And while Erdoğan continues to face an insoluble dilemma on the South-Eastern front, he also initiated a disturbing new chapter on the domestic front.

_

Marwa Daoudy is Assistant Professor in International Relations at the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies (CCAS) and the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. Prior to arriving at Georgetown, she taught at the University of Oxford’s department of Politics and International Relations and was a fellow of Oxford’s Middle East Center at St Antony’s College (UK). Her recent article published in CRIA Volume 29, 2016, Issue 3 ‘The structure-identity nexus: Syria and Turkey’s collapse (2011)’ can be found online as a Free to Access article here

 

Continue Reading

Cuban Two Step? Havana, Washington and Moscow in 2016

The archetypical asymmetric relationship between Cuba and the United States has undergone historic change. After more than 50 years, bilateral diplomatic relations have been restored and in March 2016 Barack Obama became the first sitting U.S. president to visit Cuba for 90 years. Obama’s desire for a foreign policy legacy is often named as the primary reason for the rapprochement between these two Cold War enemies. Havana’s changed relationship with Caracas, triggered by the deteriorating economic situation in Venezuela, is thought to be another cause. But the reconciliation can be seen in another light – as a challenge to the traditional assumption regarding asymmetric relationships that the larger of the countries dominates the smaller.

For more than 50 years Washington had attempted to economically and politically isolate Cuba, but by the end of the first decade of the twenty-first century this position had been ‘turned on its head.’ It was the United States that had become politically isolated in Latin America, and it was isolated with regards to the issue of Cuba. This was in part due to changes in Cuban foreign policy in the early 1990s, which had seen the island’s political influence increase both regionally and throughout the developing world. Add to that the appearance of progressive governments, or the ‘pink tide,’ in Latin America in the early 2000s, and many Latin American leaders began to question Washington’s treatment of Havana, which appeared to remain dominated by Cold War thinking. This was most noticeable in June 2009 at the 39th General Assembly of the Organisation of American States (OAS) when, under pressure from the member states, Cuba’s suspension to the organisation was revoked. A very different scenario from the OAS’s Eighth Meeting of Consultation of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs in January 1962 when the US had applied pressure to the organisation to suspend Cuba from the OAS. To improve its relationship with Latin America, Washington had little choice but to change its Cuba policy.

The power dynamic that emerged challenges assumed thinking regarding asymmetric relationships, particularly so since Cuban-U.S. relations also had a considerable effect on the island’s relationship with Moscow. The nature of Cuban-U.S. relations, and the two countries’ shared histories, has catalysed Moscow’s interest in Cuba since the time of the Russian Revolution in 1917. The outcome is that the distance between Cuba and the United States, rather than between Havana and Moscow, has been the most important factor for Cuban-Soviet relations, and subsequently Cuban-Russian relations, as well. Cuba’s story contests the notion that the intensity of an asymmetric relationship decreases as the distance between the two countries increases.

Cuban-Russian relations remain important for both countries, evidenced by the Russian spy-ship Viktor Leonov docking in Havana the day before the start of the first bilateral talks between Havana and Washington in 2014. Put simply, Cuban foreign policy is not going to fundamentally change in the aftermath of this announcement, but it will remain symbolic as areas of contestation remain in Cuban-U.S. relations, most noticeably the U.S. embargo, payment for nationalised property and the Guantanamo Naval Base. The Cold War may be over, but Havana’s tropical climate has not yet fully thawed U.S–Cuban relations.

DR. MERVYN BAIN

Dr. Mervyn Bain is Head of Department for Politics and International Relations at the University of Aberdeen and has published various articles on Cuban foreign policy in journals including the Cuban Studies, Journal of Latin American Studies, Communist and Post Communist Studies, and The Latin Americanist, amongst others. He is also the author of the two books Soviet-Cuban Relations 1985 to 1991. His article “Moscow, Havana and asymmetry in international relations,” will appear in print in Volume 29, Issue 3 of CRIA in October 2016. It can be found online as a Free to Access article here.

Continue Reading

Franco-British defence cooperation on the anniversary of Lancaster House: What can a Treaty produce in five years?

On 2 November 2010, the French and British heads of state and government signed the Lancaster House Treaty aimed at enhancing their bilateral cooperation in all areas of defence and security, Since, the Internet has regularly offered pieces assessing the progress made over the first few years of the treaty’s entry into force. Analyses of facts have been harsh: the accord is largely doomed to “deliver little”. In public debates, the signing of the treaties aroused fears of lost sovereignty and of a fatal blow to the EU security and defence policy or to the relationship with Germany.

On the contrary, both the French and British governments have since advertised the harmony and smooth progress of the Franco-British defence relationship. The treaty receives rare public treatment during short windows of “Strategic communication” during: bilateral summits, military exercises, arms fairs or even the end of a joint military intervention. On such occasions, the discourses offer an idealised view of the bilateral relationship and announce further ambitious cooperative programmes.

Arguably, policy-makers’ or commentators’ discourse has been influenced, in one direction or another, by the underlying discourse of similarity, or even twinnship between France and Britain. According to a widely accepted narrative, history and culture have given France and the UK all the more reasons to be close allies and all the more reasons to fail being so. This narrative arguably raises expectations among the actors involved in this cooperation, thus encouraging further clear-cut and often dogmatic discourses on the possible output of the bilateral treaty. Expectations were further reinforced by the feeling of urgency stemming from the current economic hardship and the need to make savings through cooperation.

The examples we have from strongly institutionalised bilateral relationships indicate that cooperation practices develop and reinforce over time. Further, cooperation and regime theory illustrate that, in the absence of enforcement mechanisms, parties to a treaty are unlikely to change their behaviour significantly. Bilateral defence agreements like the Lancaster House Treaty lack such enforcement mechanisms. This article thus looks, beyond the simplifying conflict-harmony narratives, at the progress made under the Treaty in its five years of existence.

What has the treaty produced?

The letter of the Treaty indicated the two states’ commitment to pursue cooperation in two main areas of conventional defence: the ability of their armed forces to work together and deploy in operations (Art.2 and 5), and joint procurement together with the fostering of defence industrial integration (Art.6, 7, 8 and 9). The signing of the Treaty was accompanied by a Summit Declaration listing a dozen of specific projects to be undertaken bilaterally.

Since 2010, two significant projects have failed. First, the integrated carrier group was abandoned in May 2012, with the British government’s decision (it seems, for budgetary reasons) to opt for a version of the American F-35 fighter jet that are not equivalent to the catapult system of the French aircraft carrier, thus limiting the extent of to which the Navies can integrate their carrier strike capabilities. The second failure concerns medium altitude long endurance (MALE) drones, where the French government eventually opted for buying readily available American Reapers. This decision resulted from incapacity to choose among several potential industrial partners, including the Germans of EADS and the British of BAE Systems. Nevertheless, other capability projects are still being discussed between France and the UK, such as tactical drones and armoured vehicles.

Three central projects were given the green light at the January 2014 summit: the anti-ship missile Sea Venom with an integrated bilateral development and production contract awarded to MBDA, an anti-mine underwater system with a small contract to launch the demonstration phase placed in 2015, and “Future combat air systems” with a joint demonstration programme involving Dassault and BAE together with four other French and British companies.

On the operational side, the French and British Ministries of Defence have engaged in the development of a non-permanent Combined joint expeditionary force (CJEF), to be available as a first-entry force for short, high-intensity operations. Most of the work since 2010 has been dedicated to discussing the details of the plan, considering the scenarios in which the force could be used, notably pondering on the relationship of the bilateral force with other individual allies and regional alliances. While the “initial validation of concept” of the force was declared in June 2015, there remain a number of difficulties, notably in terms of doctrinal differences, language, and more importantly the exchange of information due to system incompatibilities and the “Five Eyes” intelligence sharing agreement of which France is not part. Nonetheless, the bilateral work done over the past five years among the French and British militaries, through working group meetings and exercises, has permitted to reach a much higher level of interoperability. The bilateral intervention inLibya (2011) and the French-led operations in Mali (since January 2013) and the CAR (since December 2013) have also challenged the military partnership while at the same time demonstrating political commitment to its continuation.

If all of this is attributable to the treaty, it could be argued that the latter has indeed, already “delivered”, within the limits inherent to treaties with no enforcement mechanism. But how much of this has happened because of the treaty? Industrial collaborations and military exercises and interventions of course happen between all European states regardless of specific institutionalisation. In the conventional domain, only the on-going integration of the missile sector, too, requires legal backing in the form of intergovernmental agreements to be signed as supplementary clauses to the treaty. And in fact, only one article of the Treaty is actually binding (Art.6, §1, guaranteeing mutual access to shared equipment and facilities) the rest of the agreement is declaratory and unspecific. That being, progress in the projects announced at the summit is generally assessed against the Treaty itself, suggesting the effectiveness of its symbolic value. And it can be said that the Treaty has, since 2010, been reified and even personified, as it has argued it must be “kept alive”.

Now, what has the treaty not produced?

Firstly, and obviously, it has not prevented the two governments from acting according to what they perceive to be in their independent national interests, as is evident from the procurement decisions mentioned above. Secondly, the treaty has not destroyed the EU Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP). CSDP missions have indeed been launched— at France’s insistence— in Mali and in the CAR. Notably, the Franco-British pact has not made the UK any more pro-CSDP, as was evident in the British opposition to launching EUFOR Libya in 2011. Thirdly, the treaty has not created bilateral UK-French leadership in the EU or NATO, nor has it led to the harmonisation of their ways of warfare (notably when it comes to rules of engagement and decision-making processes). Fourthly, the treaty has not turned France away from Germany and more towards the United States, given that this was already the case already before 2010. Finally, it will not affected the two states’ sovereignty but only their access to certain technologies and infrastructures in limited fields of nuclear and missile technologies. And this is notably because the UK is already and primarily linked primarily to the US for its nuclear deterrent.

Finally, the treaty has had one significant unintended consequence: Lancaster House has given birth to a new sub-field and research agenda in Europe, with an array of conferencesseminars, journal special issues and PhD theses covering Franco-British relations and bilateral or “minilateral” defence cooperations. Certainly from that perspective, like the CSDP in the 2000s, Lancaster House has delivered.

__

ALICE PANNIER
Visiting Ph.D. candidate at POLIS, University of Cambridge
Ph.D. candidate at Sciences Po Paris & King’s College London
This piece is co-posted with the Ultima Ratio blog.

Continue Reading

Cambridge Review Co-hosts Black Sea Security Event

On 15 October 2015 the Cambridge Review of International Affairs was pleased to partner with the Forum on Geopolitics, for an interdisciplinary panel entitled Dark Waters: Security in the Black Sea Region. The Cambridge Review was delighted to welcome as speakers Vice Admiral Ian Corder, the UK Military Representative to NATO and the EU, Dr. Anna Dolidze,Deputy Defence Minister of the Republic of Georgia, and Dr. Slawomir Raszewski, Department of War Studies, Kings College London. We were further delighted to include Mr. Bruce Clark, Religion & Ethics Correspondent and former International Security Editor at The Economist, as moderator.

The panelists addressed a myriad of security concerns facing the Black Sea region, including but not limited to issues of maritime jurisdiction, energy security as related to the highly politicised commodity of gas, and increasing terrorist and separatist threats. All panelists addressed the growing role Russia played in the region, citing Russia’s actions as a growing military concern and calling for a need to deter Russia’s “adventurism” in the Black Sea region.

Thanks to our panelists, moderator, co-sponsor, and all who came!

__

KAITLIN BALL
Kaitlin M. Ball is a Managing Editor of the Cambridge Review of International Affairs, an attorney, and PhD Candidate in the University of Cambridge’s Department of Politics and International Studies (POLIS).

Continue Reading

Cambridge Review Co-hosts Black Sea Security Event

On 15 October 2015 the Cambridge Review of International Affairs was pleased to partner with the Forum on Geopolitics, for an interdisciplinary panel entitled Dark Waters: Security in the Black Sea Region. The Cambridge Review was delighted to welcome as speakers Vice Admiral Ian Corder, the UK Military Representative to NATO and the EU, Dr. Anna Dolidze, Deputy Defence Minister of the Republic of Georgia, and Dr. Slawomir Raszewski, Department of War Studies, Kings College London. We were further delighted to include Mr. Bruce Clark, Religion & Ethics Correspondent and former International Security Editor at The Economist, as moderator.

Mr. Clark, Dr. Dolidze, Dr. Raszewski, and Vice Admiral Corder at the Black Sea Security Panel. Thanks to Andrew Stark for the photo!
Mr. Clark, Dr. Dolidze, Dr. Raszewski, and Vice Admiral Corder at the Black Sea Security Panel. Thanks to Andrew Stark for the photo!

The panelists addressed a myriad of security concerns facing the Black Sea region, including but not limited to issues of maritime jurisdiction, energy security as related to the highly politicised commodity of gas, and increasing terrorist and separatist threats. All panelists addressed the growing role Russia played in the region, citing Russia’s actions as a growing military concern and calling for a need to deter Russia’s “adventurism” in the Black Sea region.

 

Thanks to our panelists, moderator, co-sponsor, and all who came!

Continue Reading