Service Communautaire d'Information sur la Recherche et le Développement - CORDIS

Final Activity Report Summary - DEFENCE-ID (European security and defence policy and the emergence of a shared normative self-understanding)

When the Berlin wall fell in November 1989 there were widespread hopes that the end of superpower confrontation marked the beginning of a period of worldwide peace, democratisation and prosperity. Many observers saw the end of the Cold War as a chance for the establishment of a new world order based on the rule of law. Instead, the post-Cold War era saw an unexpected increase of intra-state violence against ethnic or religious groups, cruel civil wars and new, asymmetric conflicts. International crises in Somalia, Rwanda, Haiti, East Timor, Sierra Leone, and the former Yugoslavia posed fundamental and difficult questions for the international community; questions to which it has so far proved unable to develop satisfactory answers. International responses almost always suffered from insufficient resources, inadequate troop contingents and underfunded civilian restructuring efforts and included dramatic failures in Rwanda (1994) and Srebrenica (1995), where UN troops became passive bystanders in the face of genocide. These crises and the manifest incapacity of the international community to deal effectively with them, created deep uncertainties; they called into question well-established views on international security, foreign policy actorness as well as ethical views regarding international crisis management. Between shocks and hopes, Western countries found themselves in the midst of intensive national and transnational debates that sought to come to terms with these disturbingly violent phenomena and their implications for an emerging post Cold War world order. This Marie Curie project investigated these national and transnational, collective sense-making processes.

The project analysed pragmatic problem-solving debates, in which the EU emerges as a problem-solving community, on the one hand, and identity discourses, in which the ethical foundations of collective European problem-solving practices were debated and a shared ethical self-understanding of the EU as an international actor has been created, on the other. The analysis included media debates in the quality press in six EU countries (Austria, France, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, United Kingdom) and the United States as a non-EU comparative case. The project encompassed 16 years of debate (January 1990 - March 2006) and is not limited to particular conflicts. Two newspapers country (except Ireland) were analysed (cleansed sample: N = 489 508 newspaper articles).

The analyses observed a large degree of transatlantic similarity in the debate which points towards the existence of a Western 'corridor of normative convictions' oriented around universalistic principles. Within this 'corridor', we argue controversially about the correct interpretation of the empirical facts concerning a concrete international crisis, the appropriateness of certain courses of action, and sometimes the authenticity of our motives and intentions. However, the differences between the European countries tended to be smaller than transatlantic differences. This points towards the differentiation of a narrower European 'corridor of normative convictions' within the Western one, marked by a dedication to a more specific interpretation of universalistic principles, support for multilateralism, a preference for civilian and diplomatic means of conflict solutions over military ones. These results confirm claims made in the debate on Europe as a 'civilian power'.

Our common ethical understandings about security and defence, however, do not consist in a single set of maxims or narrowly defined policy position. Differences are there and will remain. We need common procedures and institutions precisely in order to deal with those differences. Intra-European conflicts can be expected to be an ongoing feature of European political life, but they are not insurmountable obstacles to collective action - such as further European political integration in the field of the Common foreign and security policy (CFSP) and the European security and defence policy (ESDP). In a liberal democratic community, it is possible to agree upon common policies without 'speaking with one voice'.

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