CIAO DATE: 07/04

The International Spectator

Volume XXXIX, No. 1 (January - March 2004)

Editorial Note

The International Spectator is devoted to the evolution of the transatlantic security partnership, especially the impact of Europe’s plans for deeper security and defence cooperation on NATO and the security link between Europe and the US.

The first article by Barry Posen analyses ESDP and transatlantic relations from the point of view of structural realism, whose tenet is that in international politics power is the key means and end of states. Posen argues that the birth of ESDP is indeed a response to US hegemony and believes that US opposition to ESDP may actually reinforce Europe’s emerging inclination towards increasing autonomy in security and defence.

The comparison between the EU and US strategic documents is the subject of Alyson Bailes’ article. Her in-depth analysis of the two security strategies takes account not only their of their declared priorities, but also of their objective strategic interests and the trends in the respective public opinions. Indeed, she sees a correspondence and logical link between these three factors, arguing that the US strategy and particularly its vision of US/European complementarity are subject to continuous evolution.

In the third article of the section, Robert Hunter also compares the US National Security Strategy with the EU Strategy Paper. The so-called US doctrine of “preemptive action”, Hunter argues, has been judged less by its content than by the context in which the Bush administration decided to proclaim it and the potential magnitude of its consequences. Playing down the differences between the two documents, he is optimistic about the future of transatlantic cooperation, emphasising that, despite recent disputes, the US and EU economies are so inextricably bound together that economic imperatives may now help overcome security difficulties.

The article that follows by Stephen Larrabee analyses the impact of the latest developments in European defence on EU/US relations, underlining that since spring 2003, ESDP has again emerged as a major source of discord. He argues that a rigid division of labour is unviable and puts forward a few suggestions aimed at improving transatlantic security cooperation.

Rob de Wijk then examines the institutional development of ESDP to date and its effects on EU-NATO cooperation. European capabilities are, in his view, very important for NATO’s effectiveness. Thus, he argues, if the US wants NATO to survive as an effective organisation, it should support the development of EU defence cooperation since this is the only way Europe can endow itself with credible capabilities.

In the last article of the section, Richard Bitzinger focuses on a specific aspect of transatlantic security cooperation, namely armaments cooperation. In his opinion, some of the difficulties in this field are due to the different priorities of European and American industries: the US arms industry appears less eager than its European counterpart to engage in cooperation because it is under much less pressure to look abroad for business. Indeed, while US defence firms capture almost all defence contracts in the internal market, European arms producers are much more dependent upon foreign markets.

The section on Italy’s foreign policy features two articles on the country’s evolving role in the new international context. In the first, Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini examines the new challenges facing Italy on the international political scene, such as the increasing presence of coalitions of “variable geometry” alongside the traditional system of international organisations. This poses unprecedented problems for Italy’s foreign policy, traditionally anchored to European and Atlantic institutions. In that light, Frattini believes that Italy has to improve and reinforce its instruments of international action. It also remains in its fundamental interest to contribute to revitalising and deepening European and Atlantic cooperation, which provides the best guarantee against global disorder.

In their article, Paolo Guerrieri and Stefano Silvestri move from the observation that the international environment is characterised by a trend towards growing nationalisation and fragmentation in foreign and defence policy. Despite the need for a large - possibly global - alliance to reduce emerging threats and control and manage crises, even the US and Europe have increasingly been at odds over several crucial security issues. In this context, Italy finds it harder to reconcile its European commitments with its traditional search for a preferential relationship with the US. Internationally, the two authors emphasise the fundamental contradiction between greater monetary and market integration and Europe’s slow pace of growth and trade integration at the global level. For Italy, this reflects in decreasing competitiveness which can only be remedied by a more integrated effort by state institutions to support the country’s economic presence abroad. More generally, the authors argue in favour of reforming international institutions as a key condition for relaunching their role, something that would also be of benefit to Italy.