Academic journal article The Polish Quarterly of International Affairs

Europe, Strategy and Armed Forces: The Making of a Distinctive Power/The European Union and Military Force: Governance and Strategy

Academic journal article The Polish Quarterly of International Affairs

Europe, Strategy and Armed Forces: The Making of a Distinctive Power/The European Union and Military Force: Governance and Strategy

Article excerpt

SVEN BISCOP, JO COELMONT: Europe, Strategy and Armed Forces: The Making of a Distinctive Power. New York: Routledge, 2012, 138 pp.

PER M. NORHEIM-MARTINSEN: The European Union and Military Force: Governance and Strategy. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013, 230 pp.

For a long time, European studies concentrated on the conceptualisation of the European Union as a civilian or normative power, without recognising its growing potential in the field of foreign policy, let alone security or defence. The European Union, lacking military means, was equally excluded from the considerations of strategic studies scholars focusing on the exercise of hard power in the realm of foreign policy. The conception of the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) and the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP), initially perceived as a temporary aberration that could hardly be explained using scientific standards, has created over time a niche for the emergence of European strategic studies, emphasising the need for comprehensive, military and civilian strategic thinking in the EU's further development.

It is difficult to find one volume that would provide exhaustive information and a full picture of the European strategic approach. Nevertheless, the combination of Per M. Norheim-Martinsen's The European Union and Military Force: Governance and Strategy, and Sven Biscop and Jo Coelmont's Europe, Strategy and Armed Forces: The Making of a Distinctive Power, both recently published, allows the reader to approach the issue of European strategy in its entirety.

While the first book aims to reduce the theoretical gap between the EU and strategic studies by providing a new conceptual framework based on a combination of security governance approach with the concept of strategic actorness, the second proposes a normative attitude, offering constructive and realistic recommendations for European decision-makers on how to pursue an ambitious CSDP strategy.

Norheim-Martinsen attempts to comprehend how a non-state civilian player, the EU, can resort to the use of armed forces and, more precisely, to offer, in the absence or inadequacy of other studies, an inclusive conceptual framework for understanding the CSDP's evolution. Based on sophisticated and rigorous research, drawing upon established research traditions, and utilising new concepts, Norheim-Martinsen defines attributes of a genuine European strategic player.

In the first chapter of the study, the author discusses two main concepts serving as a starting point for the rest of the book, namely strategic actorness and security governance. The strategic actorness concept, constructed over three interconnected elements (ends, means, and resolve), allows the author to overcome conceptual divides about the character of the actor (state or non- state), and instruments (military or non-military), used to further a perceived political end. However, because of the overly formal intergovernmental character of the CSDP, strategic actorness must be analysed in an alternative, more flexible framework. Consequently, Norheim-Martinsen argues that there is a need for the extension of the term "general governance" in EU studies, to cover the CSDP as well as "high politics." He claims that the five features of Webber's security governance (heterarchy, interaction of multiple players, institutionalisation, ideational relationships and collective purpose) fit CSDP developments and shouldbe used as a reference in further studies. Such a nuanced approach consequently allows the author to proceed with the analysis of the achievements and challenges of the CSDP.

In the second chapter, after examining the scholars' debate over the existence of a European strategic culture, Norheim-Martinsen scrutinises the significance of the 2003 European Security Strategy (ESS) as a turning point in the evolution of a common CSDP narrative, based until then on "constructive ambiguity." The ESS idea of a comprehensive approach, combining all dimensions of foreign policy from trade to military, is not new, but has, according to the author, "grown to become something of a raison d'être for the union's overall security policy and a focal point for the incorporation of the military dimension into the EU domain. …

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