A Tragic Lack of Ambitions: Why EU Security Policy is no Strategy

My latest article has been published by Contemporary Security Policy. You can access the online version here and download the pdf here.

It is a short article, part of a symposium discussing European security policy. The idea of the symposium was initiated by an article by Cladi and Locatelli arguing that the European Union is basically bandwagoning with the United States. This article triggered a reply by Benjamin Pohl, who instead argues that the EU is neither balancing nor bandwagoning, but that European security policy is driven partly by a shared liberal consensus, and partly by diverging national preferences and priorities rooted in idiosyncratic political cultures.

The symposium, which brings together the contributions of Felix Berenskoetter, Tom Dyson, Trine Flockhart, Adrian Hyde-Price, Jens Ringsmose and myself, discusses these two perspectives.

I reproduce below the abstract of my own article:

Tools of classical strategic analysis support distinctive explanations for the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) of the European Union. Looking at the articulation between ends, ways, and means offers a perspective on the CSDP that is different from the approaches usually favoured by European Union specialists or even security studies scholars. In particular, it is argued here that the CSDP is no strategy, and little more than an institutional make-up for the lack of strategic thinking within the European Union. First, I show that the CSDP is not European security, and that the EU security policy is astonishingly absent from the security challenges facing Europe. Second, I argue that this situation stems from a lack of a political project within the European Union. I refer to the classical distinction made by Hans Morgenthau between pouvoir and puissance to show that, short of a political project, we will not see a strategic CSDP any time soon.

Contemporary Security Policy

Strategic Users of Culture: German Decisions for Military Action

My new paper has just been published by Contemporary Security Policy, and is available from here (behind a paywall) and in pdf.

Here is the abstract:

This article looks at cases in which political leaders have engaged in seemingly inconsistent behaviour and explores how they framed and justified their decisions. After showing that strategic culture is composed of different facets, I argue that when faced with conflicting pressures from the international environment and their own national constituencies, political leaders intentionally manipulate facets of their own strategic culture to legitimate a decision, made for contingent reasons, to participate (or not) in a military operation. I illustrate this argument by analysing in depth the decision-making process and public justifications of the German participation in the European and Security Defence Policy (ESDP) mission EUFOR Congo in 2006 and its refusal to militarily participate in a similar mission in Chad in 2007. This conception of strategic culture as both a constraint and a resource for policymakers reinforces our understanding of the boundaries of strategic culture’s explanatory power, and provides an explanation of seemingly inconsistent foreign policy behaviours.

An earlier draft was presented at the ISA annual convention in Montréal (2011) and won the honorable mention of the Alexander George Best Graduate Student Paper Award.

I am extremely grateful to Keith Krause, Stephanie Hofmann, Theo Farrell, Thomas Rid and Heather Williams for their help on earlier versions of the paper.