Academic journal article IUP Journal of International Relations

The Arab Spring Phenomenon and European Security: Change and Continuity under the Spectrum of Securitized Idealism

Academic journal article IUP Journal of International Relations

The Arab Spring Phenomenon and European Security: Change and Continuity under the Spectrum of Securitized Idealism

Article excerpt


The European security blueprint was set in the early 1990s with the Maastricht Treaty and was defined as Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP). It was the evolutionary outcome of the European integration process and the multilevel, multilayer collective efforts, at the intergovernmental level, to achieve convergence of fragmented national interests of the European nation-states. Operationally, it meant to allow a sui generis union of politically autonomous states to function in an orchestrated way, which appeared to be ideologically and institutionally compatible with the joint sovereignty doctrine.

According to the aforementioned power transfer model, "participation in the community does not entail power transfers but only a pooling of sovereignties by the member states."1 This cautious and realistic step reflected the priorities of European Union (EU) member states, which appeared reluctant in transferring sovereignty over matters of high politics, resulting in the slow advancement of the second pillar of European integration based on the Treaty of Maastricht. The gradual steps taken were in essence an institutional evolution of the European Political Cooperation (EPC) notion elaborated in the early 1970s. In the beginning of the 1990s, this integrative effort took the form of a written minimal consensus in Maastricht and nominally2 set a twofold parallel aim: political and economic integration, in a way that multilevel interdependence and the pursuit of common goals would guarantee peace in Europe.

After the end of the Cold War, threats acquired different forms and intensity and emerged on a regional level under differentiated political and social circumstances as well as the side effects of Arab uprisings. Security systems and subsystems appeared to be in transition. This had an impact on European, regional and global security, a fact that enhanced uncertainty. As a result of the new security given, the nature, intensity and diversity of threats changed and multiplied, particularly in zones of turmoil and war most commonly associated with zones where transition was taking place. This provided new input into the security equation and eventually brought the EU closer to the idealism-pragmatism dilemma of international politics.

According to a conventional state-centric definition, foreign policy "consists of the external actions taken by the decision makers with the intention of achieving longrange goals and short-term objectives. Action is constrained by the perceived circumstances of the state on behalf of which the decision makers are acting-its geography, its economy, its demography, its political culture, culture and tradition, its military-strategic situation."3 In effect, the definition overtly or covertly describes the multilayer prerequisites for a policy-making efficiency framework as well as the desired institutional, cognitive, organizational and operational ground on which common approaches to foreign policy and security issues had to be formulated.

In the process, the EU has not clearly set a defined "long-range goal", which directly refers to its teleological ambiguity. European political elites have not defined the eventual aim of the integration process, a fact that per se makes foreign policy goals unclear and allows them to be formulated on a state-centric axis actually supported by the EU's institutional setting. After the end of the Second World War this was defined within the then geopolitical setting and the need to establish "an ever closer union of peoples". Today this has been achieved. Yet, despite the realization of the original goal, Europe has failed to define its post-Cold War objective, a reformed raison d'être in the new changing international setting under the emerging pressure on polarity and power distribution. This vagueness was evident in several regional crises such as the Balkans, Lebanon and at a later stage during the events that caused the Arab Spring turmoil. …

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