CIAO DATE: 11/05

The International Spectator

Volume XL, No. 2 (April - June 2005)

Editorial Note

This issue opens with a short comment by Tom Farer on two recent UN reports on the organisation’s reform - one by the Secretary General, another by a high-level panel established by him - which he considers among the most striking texts to emerge from the UN in years. Farer concentrates on two issues: terrorism and use of force. He agrees that "achieving a comprehensive convention on terrorism, including a clear definition, is a political imperative” and then looks into some of the ambiguities of the definition proposed in the reports, assessing their implications. In that context, he dissents with both reports’ refusal to include violence by the state within the strictures of the anti-terrorism general convention they propose. In the second part on the use of force, he criticises what he considers a too timid defence by the Panel and Secretary General of the Charter’s rules on the use of force.

In the first article of the "Essays” section, Paolo Calzini critically assesses the evolution of the Russian intervention in the Chechen War. He claims that while the question of separatism remains at the core of the conflict, the Russian government has always instrumentally underscored the separatism/terrorism equation to generate domestic and international support. According to Calzini, the tragedy in the school in Beslan (September 2004) brought to a halt Moscow’s previous policy of granting the region a measure of autonomy, however ambiguous. Assuming the raid was organised with foreign support, the Kremlin invoked the "foreign enemy” formula of Soviet times to legitimate an unprecedented increase in defence budget resources and the consolidation of central state structures in keeping with the strong centralising reform begun earlier. Calzini feels that this development reduces the margin of interaction between local communities and the Moscow administration, weakening the latter’s base of legitimacy. All the while, the vicious circle of violence acts and retaliations goes on, making negotiations impossible. In a situation in which the stronger side is not willing to make concessions and the weaker side not willing to concede defeat, the most plausible scenario is indefinite continuation of the armed conflict.

Introducing the special section on "The Transatlantic Dimension of Security”, Julian Lindley-French offers a fierce defence of the rationale behind the intervention in Iraq, namely that "credible security governance in an age of fractured power and fractured actors requires the establishment of red lines by the strong that must not be crossed”. That said, he laments the replacement of inspirational America by mighty America since September 2001. "Something must not be right with US engagement in the world when so many hate or distrust a power that has given so much.” He claims that there is a crisis of legitimacy in US foreign policy that is undermining its effectiveness and urges Washington to learn once again to lead the pluralistic community of states it created. In the meantime, for all their military weakness, Europeans are the only credible group that can provide the US foreign and security policy with the all-important legitimacy it requires. Finally, he concludes, there are encouraging signs that the much heralded death of transatlantic relations is premature. After setting out ten points upon which the Bush administration should found its security engagement with Europe, Lindley-French closes by spelling out five key elements on which a new strategic transatlantic partnership could be built.

In his article, Jean-Yves Haine investigates the future prospects of transatlantic relations. Acknowledging that the divide between United States and Europe has widened to the point of fracture in the last couple of years, he points out that this reflects the changing nature of NATO and the transformed role of the allantic alliance, which has shifted from collective defence to collective security and greatly broadened its scope. In this new global context, the alliance no longer reflects the mutual interests of the EU and the US, but rather mirrors their agreement and disagreement. It is obvious that Europe and America must learn how to disagree. In particular, they have to adopt a more pragmatic approach to deal with their differences: it is unrealistic to expect complete agreement on all issues, the author suggests, but it is equally unrealistic to refuse common actions because of disagreement on specific ones.

The emergence of the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP) and the issues associated with the capabilities and interoperability gaps between the EU and the US are the focus of the article by Jeffrey P. Bialos. His point is that the US should stop denying the emergence of ESDP and work to establish functional cooperation links with it, as parallel but uncoordinated developments in defence industries on the two sides of the Atlantic could affect the allies’ ability to operate effectively together. The capabilities gap revealed in the nineties is likely to last since Europe countries have neither the resources nor the political will to put more money into defence spending. Yet, if coalition warfare is important to the transatlantic partners, forces must be made interoperable notwithstanding the difference in capabilities: in network-centric warfare, it is interoperability that allows the partners to communicate. Luckily this goal is economically more feasible for Europe than matching the US in raw combat capabilities. But the only way it can do it is by going ahead with ESDP, and formulating a European grand strategy with a single European procurement agency and a single R&D agency - and the United States would be well counselled to encourage it to do so.

The article that follows by Graham Messervy-Whiting deals with the growing EU-NATO relationship in the period between March 2000, when the EU’s military structures were created, and March 2003, when the "Berlin Plus” agreements finally came into effect and the EU launched its first-ever military operation, Concordia. Messervy-Whiting examines principally but not exclusively military-to military relations between the two organisations, focusing in particular on six issues in the sequence in which they first arose: liaison; intelligence, geographic, command, control and communications; capabilities; security; exercises and training; policy; and operations. The author argues that the EU-NATO relationship will be instrumental in further developing a strategic culture in Europe that favours the early, rapid and where necessary robust intervention required for both EU and NATO operations.

The domestic and external reasons behind Turkey’s fears of exclusion from the European security framework are examined in the last article in this section by Thanos Veremis. Turkey has recently reconsidered its policy vis-ą-vis its neighbours, while seeking membership in the EU with greater zeal than before. From a domestic point of view, the main factor behind this change is the 2002 landslide victory of the Islamic AK Party. Contrary to common perceptions, Erdogan’s followers are attracted by the European prospect because they hope it will free them from the oppressive vigilance of the system’s military guardians. From an international point of view, the recent war on Iraq altered Turkey’s privileged relations with the US, in that Turkey fears a Kurdish drive for independence. Given the strain on US-Turkish relations, Turkey is concerned that if EU accession negotiations fail, the country could remain on the fringe of Europe with no formal security tie to the EU. That is why it is doing everything it can to secure its own membership in the ESDP while making sure that NATO is maintained as the primary organisation for European defence.

Finally, concluding the "Essays” is an article by Esther Barbé and Eduard Soler i Lecha which evaluates the Spanish government’s initiative to organise a new Euro-Mediterranean conference in Barcelona to relaunch the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership. The authors start out by assessing the main changes in the global, Mediterranean, European and Spanish contexts that have influenced the development of the EMP in the last ten years. Today’s drastically changed environment could both restrict the margin of manoeuvre for advances in the EMP and open up new opportunities for progress. The authors then turn to an analysis of the elements that convinced the Spanish government to ask to hold a second Barcelona conference, also called Barcelona + 10. They survey the issues that will be given priority by the Spanish diplomacy, the instruments that have been set up to organise the conference and how the organisers have internalised the constraints and opportunities of the 2005 context.