I promised a more in-depth look at the European Security Doctrine Proposal. The more I look at it, the more I realize that a full analysis will require more time than I can put into it right now--this is a function of how much internal tension can be found in the report. Nevertheless, I will share a more in-depth but certainly not comprehensive critique of the report:
The report is caught between an interesting analysis of the problems and the fact that Europe probably isn't willing to commit the men and material necessary to do what it takes to address the problems identified. I'm not sure if the authors of the report respond to the probable unwillingness consciously or if something else is going on. Either way, it makes the report a very odd read.
I will start on a positive note. Part I of my critique will focus on the problem framing aspect of the report--much of which the report gets dead-on.
Here are some areas where the report clearly gets things right:
Over the last few years, the European Union has been developing a common security policy. In December 2003, the European Council agreed a European Security Strategy (ESS), which advocates preventive engagement and effective multilateralism. This report is about implementation of the ESS. It argues that Europe needs the capability to make a more active contribution to global security. It needs military forces but military forces need to be configured and used in new ways. The report focuses on regional conflicts and failed states, which are the source of new global threats including terrorism, weapons of mass destruction and organised crime.
One of my arguments against the primacy of multilateralism in US foreign affairs is that Europe has very little to offer. Therefore I believe the report is absolutely correct to identify the fact that Europe needs to increase its capability to make a more active contribution to world security.
On page seven of the report, the authors list a large number of recent foreign problems. (It is fairly lengthy, so rather than quote this list, I invite you to read it in the original.) The authors then make a very interesting point:
It is these conflicts that become the ‘black holes’ generating many of the new sources of insecurity that impact directly on the security of the citizens of the European Union. The South Caucasus and the Balkans export or transport hard drugs and guns to the European Union, as well as trafficking or smuggling people who are often sexually exploited or forced to work in the illegal economy. The worsening situation in Palestine and Iraq is used by Islamic militants as evidence of a Judaeo-Christian conspiracy against Islam, to recruit terrorists. Wars in Africa defeat Europe’s efforts to fight poverty and disease with development initiatives.
Generally, contemporary conflicts are characterised by circumstances of lawlessness, impoverishment, exclusivist ideologies and the daily use of violence. This makes them fertile ground for a combination of human rights violations, criminal networks and terrorism, which spill over and cause insecurity beyond the area itself. While these developments may initially have appeared to apply primarily to developing and conflict states, the 11 September and 11 March attacks have made it clear once and for all that no citizens of the world are any longer safely ensconced behind their national borders, and that sources of insecurity are no longer most likely to come in the form of border incursions by foreign armies.
Emphasis mine. This is precisely the heart of a security minded, non-imperial, interventionalist security policy.
The report also contains a discussion of why containment is not a realistic option in dealing with today's global security problems:
Traditional security policy was based on defence of borders and the ‘containment’ of threats. This often meant support for authoritarian regimes, including military intervention or the maintenance of bases, regardless of the consequences for people living in the countries in question. This approach, based on a narrow definition of national interest, is no longer realistic in a world characterised by global interconnectedness. Insecurity experienced by people living in places like the Middle East has a tendency to spread, as September 11 dramatically illustrated. Moreover, it is very difficult to sustain closed societies in a global era – opening up to trade, travel and, above all, communication undermines the stability of authoritarian regimes. Although bastions of authoritarianism still persist in the Middle East and large parts of Asia, civil unrest and various degrees of state failure are more common facts of life in many regions. Saudi Arabia, for example, used to be considered the paragon of authoritarian stability; now the volatile combination of a frustrated young population and al-Qaeda ideology is turning Saudi Arabia into a powder keg. State collapse is becoming the most likely alternative to democratic transition. This is why preventive engagement to facilitate democratic transition is a better approach than containment.
They might also have added that the scale of the damage caused by a partially failed containment makes containment a very risky option.
The report notices that the lack of borders for these conflicts is not merely a geographic phenomenon:
The ESS rightly places much emphasis on the ‘prevention’ of crises as opposed to the doctrine of ‘pre-emption’. But it is often difficult to distinguish between different phases of conflict. The conditions that cause conflict – fear and hatred, a criminalised economy that profits from violent methods of controlling assets, weak illegitimate states, the existence of warlords and paramilitary groups, for example – are often exacerbated during and after periods of violence and there are no clear beginnings or endings.
I think the report does a good job of identifying some of the problem issues which are crucial to global security. It mentions nuclear proliferation only briefly, but I can't ask it to deal with everything. I especially agree one of the crucial lessons of 9-11 is that we can't afford to rely on containment policies coupled with defense oriented security measures. I also want to note that this report sketches an over-arching security vision--it is not just about the small force they are proposing. The report is about the small force, how it is to be deployed, and both when and how Europe is to commit itself to action.
As it moves into some of the implementation questions, things get significantly more problematic. But that is for Part II.