CIAO DATE: 04/02

International Spectator

The International Spectator

Volume XXXVI, No. 4 October-December 2001


Editor's Note


With the previous issue, The International Spectator opened a debate on the possible developments and policy implications of the newly emerging terrorist threat and the wide-ranging campaign undertaken by the US and other countries to counter it. In continuing it, the Opinions section presents three articles examining the post-September 11 lessons and scenarios from various perspectives. Moving from the observation that the events of September 11 may mark a radical transformation in the way war is conceptualized and conducted, Simon Serfaty argues that this new challenge puts America's credibility as a durable power and, in particular, its coalition-building capacity to a serious test. Pascal Boniface's central thesis in the article that follows is that, while no major changes in global force proportions among the great powers are in sight, the shocking revelation of America's vulnerability - one of the distinctive elements of what was considered its exceptionalism - is likely to have a long-term impact on its foreign policy attitudes, making it more sensitive to the dynamics of the outside world and more careful about the ways in which it exercises its power. In the third article, Vladimir Baranovsky summarises and discusses the contrasting arguments on the international implications of September 11. In his considerations on the effects on Russia he notes that, although the common interest in defeating terrorism is resulting in enhanced relations with the West, Moscow remains fearful of being relegated to the status of minor partner and suspicious of the US' increasing influence in various areas - including Central Asia - which may complicate future cooperation unless new, stable, and mutually satisfying forms of partnership are established. This issue of The International Spectator also continues the series of articles devoted to institutional reform of the European Union, a subject which is becoming increasingly topical in view of the imminent opening of the Convention on the future of Europe for which the Laeken European Council (14/15 December 2001) approved a broad and ambitious agenda. The article by Maria Valeria Agostini examines the role of national parliaments in the future institutional architecture of the EU, providing a critical overview of the various proposals aimed at increasing their involvement in the European decision-making process. She also looks into the efforts undertaken by national parliaments in various European countries to counter the trend towards a reduction in their role brought on by European integration. In the second article of the European section, Stelios Stavridis revisits the concept of civilian power as applied to the European Union, arguing that, contrary to a widely held view, the Union's development of a military dimension, far from undermining its civilian capabilities, will contribute to their further consolidation.

The Italian foreign policy survey features an article by Germano Dottori and Giovanni Gasparini which examines the shortcomings and potential of the ongoing transformation of Italy's armed forces and defence organisation. The authors concentrate on such structural problems as the constitutional basis of Italy's defence policy, the role of parliament in shaping it and the organisational and financial constraints that complicate the process of full professionalisation of the military.

Finally, three articles are devoted to the future of cooperation in the Mediterranean, one of the journal's traditional subjects. Raffaella Del Sarto and Alfred Tovias look into the main political and cultural determinants of Israel's sceptical view of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership (EMP). They underline Israel's difficulty in finding an appropriate role within the EMP because of its north-south polarity, which highlights the country's "dilemma of being caught between Europe and the Orient". Patrizio Bianchi analyses the various economic policy instruments that may be applied to create stable cooperative links between the two shores of the Mediterranean. He emphasises the crucial importance of the removal of trade barriers as well as the need to promote structural adjustment in the southern Mediterranean countries as a pre-condition for their successful, that is socially sustainable, opening to foreign investment and international competition. Finally, Tarik Oguzlu offers a Turkish view of the Cyprus question. He criticises the major assumptions underlying the current EU policy towards the island, stressing that it may exacerbate security dilemmas in the eastern Mediterranean area. He argues in favour of granting EU membership to a confederal Cyprus as the only political configuration sustainable in the current conflictual setting.