Is the Transatlantic Alliance Sinking Into the Abyss of the Atlantic?

An Assessment of the Peacekeeping Policies of the United States and the European Union

By
USS Farragut transits the Atlantic Ocean.
Is the Transatlantic Alliance Sinking Into the Abyss of the Atlantic? : An Assessment of the Peacekeeping Policies of the United States and the European Union - Oya Dursun

Abstract

Discourse between the United States and the European Union regarding peacekeeping operations have important implications for transatlantic relations. Are "Europeans from Venus and Americans from Mars" in their respective foreign policy approaches? How do transatlantic actors choose which crises to respond to-in terms of narrow national interest or in terms of moral values? Which actions do they suggest in dealing with humanitarian contingencies-military intervention or softer types of intervention? This article traces rhetorical clues for tensions and/or agreements in post-Kosovo era transatlantic relations on the issue of peacekeeping. The findings of this analysis indicate that there are not as many differences between transatlantic framings of peacekeeping operations as suggested by the literature on transatlantic relations.

Transatlantic Rift?

The end of the Cold War radicalyl changed the structure of the international order: the US emerged from the Cold War struggle as the sole superpower, and the common threat that used to bind Europe and the US together disappeared from the international arena. Some scholars assert that once the Cold War victory was consolidated during the 1990s, the structurally determined need to mediate US and European foreign policy through the transatlantic prism effectively came to an end.8 The Iraq war further provoked such debates in the media and academia.

Many balance-of-power scholars argue that under unipolarity, states will engage in balancing against the hegemon's unchecked power.9 John Ikenberry warns that "the way America treats other major states when they are in decline will influence how these states treat America when-not if-they recover. "10 Some project that the EU will emerge as a rival to US hegemony, 11 while others dismiss that possibility.12

Robert Kagan, in his renowned book, Of Paradise and Power, maintains:

It is time to stop pretending that Europeans and Americans share a common view of the world ... Europe is turning away from power, or to put it differently, it is moving beyond power into a self-contained world of laws and rules and transnational negotiation and cooperation.13

Lambert concurs with Kagan when he contends that US military strength has produced a propensity to use that strength, and Europe's military weakness has produced an understandable aversion to the exercise of military power.14

Some, on the other hand, suggest that Kagan overstates transatlantic differences.15 They underline the EU's gradual repudiation of "soft power" tools but add that the EU will not give up on its "soft power."16 And some even go further and identify Europe as the "quiet superpower." These scholars argue that US arguments about the insufficient role of Europe in military operations ignore the fact that Europe provides the majority of peacekeeping ground forces and contributes the largest share for civil reconstruction.17

Robert Cooper identifies Europe as a "post-modern system" and maintains that the post-modern states operate on the basis of laws and open co-operative security among themselves. But he adds that when dealing with modern or pre­modern states, Europeans should "revert" to means such as "force, pre-emptive attack, deception, whatever is necessary for those who still live in the nineteenth­ century world of every state for itself."18 Following Cooper's advice, Europeans increasingly emphasize the military aspect of their powers when dealing with new security threats, including humanitarian conflicts around the globe. EU High Representative Solana's remarks validate Cooper's argument: "Europeans may insist that force is used within the framework of law, but they also understand that sometimes force must be used to uphold law. So [Europeans] want to add some muscle to [their] civil power.”19

Is it really true that the transatlantic alliance is sinking into the abyss of the Atlantic? As demonstrated by the literature review above, the majority of the works in transatlantic relations literature would expect American political discourse to assign greater emphasis on interest-based calculations or stability concerns over humanitarian concerns20 and on military intervention over "softer" types of intervention, such as economic or humanitarian assistance. The underlying assumption in this article is that rhetoric is representative of foreign policy. Through an analysis of rhetorical addresses of the main foreign policymakers on each side of the Atlantic, this article compares and contrasts the EU and US framings of peacekeeping operations along the above-mentioned lines.

Accordingly, this article poses two research questions relevant for testing the proclaimed transatlantic differences on the issue of peace operations. The first research question asks: How do the transatlantic actors choose which crises to act upon-in terms of narrow national (or supranational) interest or in terms of moral values?

Hypothesis 1a: The American framing of international peace operations contains more references to national interests and cost-benefit analysis than the EU's framing of international peace operations.

Hypothesis 1b: The EU's framing of international peace operations contains more references to humanitarian aspects of these operations than the American framing.

In order to test for Hypotheses Ia and 1b, two dependent variables -"humanitarian (value-based) concern" and "stability (interest-based) concern" -are included in the analysis.20

The second research question asks: What types of intervention-civilian (humanitarian), economic, or military-does each side of the Atlantic give primacy to when offering solutions to deal with various humanitarian contingencies?

Hypothesis 2a: The political discourse of the US is more likely to emphasize military aspects of power than is the political discourse of the EU when dealing with peacekeeping.

Hypothesis 2b: The political discourse of the EU is more likely to emphasize soft power than is the political discourse of the US when dealing with peacekeeping.

In order to test for Hypotheses 2a and 2b, three more dependent variables­ "humanitarian (civilian)/political intervention," "economic aid," and "military intervention" - are included in the analysis.21

Results

Hypothesis 1b: Looking at the descriptive statistics regarding the "humanitarian concern" variable, one can argue that the mean humanitarian concern value for the EU framing is slightly smaller than the mean humanitarian concern value for the US framing. The EU framing contains fewer references to "humanitarian concern" than the US framing. This might be attributed to the abundance of high-sounding ideals in the foreign policy rhetoric of the US presidents. This trend is contrary to what is expected by Hypothesis 1b. Nevertheless, both transatlantic actors assign comparable emphasis on humanitarian concern on average (the values for both are approximately two).

Hypothesis 1a: Looking at Table 1, one can observe that the mean value for the "stability concern" variable of the EU is slightly greater than the mean value for the "stability concern" of the US. Hence, the prediction of Hypothesis 1a does not hold true in this case. Both the transatlantic sides on average mention their stability concerns only "to some extent" (i.e. twice).