No time for Uncertainty. The European Defense and Security in the Time of Terror: Threats, Challenges and Opportunities

We are organizing a panel at the next SGRI conference (Trento, June 29-July 1).

As reported in there website: The annual SGRI Conference is an opportunity for scholars throughout Italy to come together and discuss topics that are relevant to international relations. The 2017 Conference will be held for the sixth time in Trento from June 29th to July 1st and will be organized by IPLab (International Politics Laboratory), a joint venture involving the Bruno Kessler Foundation and the University of Trento.

Here you’ll find a list of the all panels.

Here below the details of “our” panel (“No time for Uncertainty. The European Defense and Security in the Time of Terror: Threats, Challenges and Opportunities“):

Chair: Giampiero Cama (University of Genova)
Discussants: Francesco N. Moro (University of Bologna) & Fabrizio Coticchia (University of Genova)

Date: TBD
Room: Sala Grande

According to the European Union Global Strategy “terrorism, hybrid threats, economic volatility, climate change and energy insecurity” are significantly endangering Europe (EUGS, 2016). The EUGS emphasizes the need for an “appropriate level of ambition and strategic autonomy”, enhancing common efforts especially on cyber, counterterrorism, energy and strategic communications. In other words, Member States should “move towards defence cooperation as the norm”, providing a greater contribution to collective security, working closely with its allies and partners, such as NATO. The panel aims at collecting empirical papers that, through different methodological perspectives, try and understand how current transformations (political, such as Brexit and Trump election but also technological, such as the “rise” of drones) are impacting traditional European and national security practices.

The panel explores how Member States, as well as the EU, have faced so far the above- mentioned challenges, examining in details the following key-areas: (a) shared assessments of internal and external threats (e.g., Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance, including the role of Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems and satellite communications); (b) the evolution of digital capabilities to secure data, networks and critical infrastructure; (c) the transformation of (national and European) counter-terrorism; civil-military relations in operations; (d) the development of European procurement (especially regarding full- spectrum land, air, space and maritime capabilities); (e) the military doctrines at the national and regional level.

Confirmed Papers: 

  1. Edoardo Baldaro (Scuola Normale Superiore – Pisa), The EU in the Sahel: Assessing Strengths and Limits of the European Integrated Approach to Conflict
    Nowadays the EU is facing renewed security threats coming from its instable Eastern and Southern borders. State fragility and civil conflicts in the peripheries are considered as factors that can endanger European internal security and cohesion, asking for concrete initiatives and responses by European institutions. The European Union Global Strategy (EUGS)introduces a new ‘integrated approach to conflict and crisis’, in order to propose innovative and shared solutions concerning conflict-management and crisis-relief.Adopting an ideational and social constructivist approach to the study of European foreign policy, this article aims to explore the “fragile state” and “resilience” concurring policy paradigms informing this new European strategic concept. Analysing the EU’s initiatives in the Sahel, one of the regions where the EU elaborated and tested its renewed approach, the paper underlines ideational and practical weaknesses of the European action, focusing the attention on three dimensions: 1) inter-agency efficiency and cooperation; 2) EU – member states coordination; 3) effects on local governance and environment. We finally argue that even if the EUGS is going in the right direction, the EU still suffers from cognitive problems and lacks internal cooperation.

    In the conclusion I argue that even if the EUGS is going in the right direction, the EU still suffers of cognitive and normative problems and pays a lack of internal cooperation, all factors that can still put into question the EU’s approach to fragility and conflict in the South.

  2. Eugenio Cusumano (Leiden University), Migrant Rescuing as Organised Hypocrisy: EU Maritime Missions Offshore Libya Beyond Humanitarianism and Border Control
    In October 2014, the Italian Navy maritime Search and Rescue (SAR) operation offshore Libya Mare Nostrum was replaced by the EU border agency Frontex operation Triton, followed in 2015 by the Common Security and Defence Policy mission EUNAVFOR Med ‘Sophia’. Both Triton and EUNAVFOR have increasingly advertised their  involvement in SAR operations. As the two missions focused on reducing illegal entries to Europe rather than SAR, their commitment to migrant rescuing was not matched by consistent action. This paper conceptualizes the mismatch between humanitarian rhetoric and activities primarily meant to reduce migrant flows as a form of organised hypocrisy. Based on a decoupling between talk and action, organised hypocrisy allowed EU maritime missions to reconcile contradictory pressures from their external environment, such as EU willingness to reduce maritime migrations and the normative imperative to act against the loss of life at sea
  3. Artem Patalakh (University of Milan Statale), Soft Power Revisited: How Attraction Works in International Relations
    The paper puts forward a constructivist interpretation of how Joseph Nye’s soft power works in International Relations (IR). In particular, it focuses on the functioning of attraction, soft power’s main pronounced mechanism. On the basis of a theoretical literature review, the author identifies three primary issues that require further specification in Nye’s account, namely a clear disentanglement between hard and soft power, a psychological mechanism behind attraction and the relationship between agentic and structural forces in the soft power relationship. To address these issues, the author locates soft power in the constructivist IR paradigm, viewing power in its broadest terms (as including all the four “faces” of power). Then, the author applies French and Raven’s typology of power bases to build a framework that classifies attraction into three types, each with a particular psychological mechanism: “rational” attraction (which means that actor A is positively evaluated by actor B of the basis of its actions that do not aim at other IR actors), “social” attraction (which implies that A is positively evaluated based on how it treats other IR actors) and “emotional” attraction (which happens if B is positively evaluated by A, because B is useful for A to fulfill its identity, its perceived position among other IR actors). Having said this, the author uses insight from social psychology to provide theoretical explanations for each type of attraction, illustrating them with relevant examples from contemporary international politics.

  4. Mirco Elena (USPID)

 

 

See you soon in Trento…

 

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Top 5 by Venus in Arms – week 92

Why was Giulio Regeni killed? As reported by The Guardian in this article, a month after he was last seen alive, speculation as to why he was targeted remains just that.

Are we preparing the war in Libya? Looking at the decision-making process of some European countries, the answer seems positive…

During electoral debate everyone complaints about “polarization“. However, as stressed by Torben Iversen and David Soskice (here), polarization could be interpreted also as the sign of a healthy democracy.

From politics to “realpolitik“. The War on the Rocks provides a “complex history” of realpolitik, offering a comprehensive literature review of the concept.

Finally, the NYT reveals (here) the U.S. Plans to put advisers on front lines of Nigeria’s War on Boko Haram

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Learning From Others? Emulation and Change in the Italian Armed Forces Since 2001

As illustrated in previous posts, military transformation represents our main current research issue. We’ve just published a book on this topic and we are still working on Italian (and European) military transformation.

Here you’ll find our latest paper, which has been published (in early view ) on “Armed Forces&Society“. The title is: “Learning From Others? Emulation and Change in the Italian Armed Forces Since 2001” (F. Coticchia and F.N. Moro, 2016).

Here below the abstract:

How does military change take place in states that are not able to develop autonomous solutions? How does transformation occur when limited resources are available? What are the “sources of military change” for armed forces that do not possess the (cognitive and material) resources that are essential for autonomous development? In articulating an answer to these questions, this article draws from the theoretical debate on interorganizational learning and looks at the mechanisms that drive “learning from others.” We argue that adaptation and organizational learning often had to look for, and then try and adapt, off-the-shelf solutions that required relatively more limited resources. Empirically, the article focuses on the Italian Armed Forces, which have rarely attracted scholarly attention, although it emerged from almost total lack of activity in the Cold War to extended deployments in the 2000s.

Stay tuned for additional results of our analysis (we are now working also with surveys..)

 

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Top 5 by Venus in Arms – Week 85

Happy New Year from Venus in Arms! What resolutions did you set? It also depends on how you see the world around you evolving. This is how James Lindsay see the world around the US in 2016, and which questions should drive US national security planning.

 

2016 begins with an enduring rivalry getting hotter. The relationships between Saudi Arabia and Iran are critical. Generally this was noticed by most people (consumers), because of oil prices increasing, but not this time, as Keith Johnson reports.

 

2016 is Presidential elections time! We’ll examine national security platforms of the contenders in the coming months. In the meanwhile, while primaries still rage, let’s explore the most unlikely (early opinions) and still most successful candidate on the Republican side, Donald Trump.

 

2016 is likely to be characterized by the continuation of the “migrant crisis”. So the Italian Defence Minister Pinotti argues, as the underlying causes of the crisis (e.g. instability in Libya) have not been solved.

 

Finally, on our own resolutions. One is to read more books. As the dissolution of states in the Middle East has been making the headlines in the past months, we might as well start from a better understanding the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, and read Eugene Rogan’s The Fall of The Ottomans (Allen Lane).

 

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ViA 2015: La trasformazione militare italiana (e molto altro)

Terminata la pausa estiva, Venus in Arms è di nuovo pronto a rituffarsi sui temi della difesa e della sicurezza (e molto altro). In questo breve post di inizio Settembre illustreremo brevemente gli argomenti che saranno al centro della nostra attenzione nei prossimi mesi, nei quali cercheremo sempre di collegare analisi e studi “accademici” a riflessioni legate al dibattito corrente.

Primo aspetto al centro del nostro lavoro sarà la trasformazione militare italiana, ovvero l’argomento del nostro ultimo libro. Il volume analizza il processo di cambiamento delle forze armate italiane nel nuovo secolo, attraverso una prospettiva comparata (Francia e Gran Bretagna). L’analisi illustra l’interazione tra alcune dimensioni della trasformazione (budget, impiego sul campo, dottrina) e la loro influenza sul percorso di cambiamento e adattamento avvenuto negli ultimi anni nella Difesa italiana. Attraverso interviste, documenti ufficiali e fonti secondarie sono state esaminate in dettaglio le operazioni in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libano e Libia.

Una particolare attenzione è stata dedicata alla dimensione istituzionale del cambiamento. In linea con quest’ultimo aspetto, in futuro ci focalizzeremo sulla dimensione dell’apprendimento, attraverso survey e questionari.

Nelle prossime settimane organizzeremo alcuni seminari di presentazione del libro, che riporteremo per tempo sul blog. Un po’ di pubblicità non fa mai male, naturalmente.

Un altro aspetto che continuerà ad occupare costantemente le pagine di Venus sarà la Difesa italiana, soprattutto alla luce della pubblicazione dell’ultimo Libro Bianco e della riforme ad esso collegate. Stiamo lavorando proprio sull’ultimo documento strategico e a breve saranno qui riportati i risultati delle nostre analisi.

In chiave comparata ci dedicheremo poi al rapporto tra l’evoluzione della Difesa italiana e quella tedesca avvenuta nell’era post-bipolare. Abbiamo già passato un po’ di tempo di Germania per interviste e analisi. Quindi aspettatevi un bel po’ di materiale da leggere e discutere (non in tedesco, tranquilli).

Una parte consistente del nostro lavoro sarà poi dedicata ai temi della political violence, del ruolo della criminalità organizzata (nazionale e transnazionale), dei conflitti contemporanei.

Al tema dei foreign fighters saranno dedicati alcuni post, i quali riporteranno i risultati di alcuni analisi che abbiamo condotto di recente in merito al caso dell’ISIL.

Non ci dimenticheremo del controverso tema degli F-35, cercando però di spostare la discussione da una prospettiva budget-driven a qualcosa di più articolato, come fatto in passato.

La sicurezza europea, scossa dalle crisi interne e regionali e dal dramma immane dei profughi, non potrà che essere esaminata in dettaglio, così come la trasformazione della NATO.

Infine, i guest-post cercheranno di ampliare l’orizzonte interdisciplinare di ViA, da analisi tradizionali di Relazioni Internazionali agli studi di intelligence fino ai “nuovi” metodi di insegnamento in materia di IR, sicurezza e scienza politica. Ogni contributo alla discussione è ben accetto ovviamente.

Sarete sempre tenuti al corrente dei principali appuntamenti con conferenze e seminari (in più qualche dettaglio sulle trasferte che faremo in Europa League).

Insomma, molta carne al fuoco. Senza dimenticarci l’appuntamento settimanale con la nostra Top-5, che raccoglie i migliori “5 pezzi facili” che provengono da blog, riviste, giornali di tutto il mondo. La dimensione “pop” del sito non verrà trascurata, soprattutto nella spasmodica attesa del nuovo capitolo di Star Wars.

Stay tuned

 

 

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Our book…

We are pleased to announce that we’ve just received the first copies of our book: “The Transformation of Italian Armed Forces in Comparative Perspective. Adapt, Improvise, Overcome?“, F. Coticchia and F.N. Moro, Ashgate, 2015.

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Here you’ll find the full contents list.

Here the first reviews.

We consider the manuscript as the ViA’s book. The blog will provide you further details on our research on military transformation in Europe. First of all, here you can download the introduction.

Let us know what do you think about…

 

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Top 5 by Venus in Arms – week 61

ISIS, again. Kobane was a great success in the reconquista that followed ISIS’ earlier pushes in Northern Syria. It seems that it has been just taken back by the armies of the Caliphate.

ISIS is also elsewhere, and it seems that it suffered a defeat in Libya in the last weeks. Foreign Policy reports on the battle in Derna, where ISIS was expelled by a (very) heterogeneous coalition including DMSC (Mujahideen Shura Council, linked to al-Qaeda) and the Libyan National Army.

In the meanwhile, in Europe, tensions are building up on the Eastern border. The US has been strengthening its NATO allies with increasing military support, by support meaning weapons. The last shipment involved about 250 tanks under a new plan devised by the Pentagon (or for) with allies.

Tensions in the real world, tensions in the virtual one. China is allegedly behind hacking the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) in the US, with a wealth of data on government employees. But attribution, when it comes to China, becomes a delicate diplomatic issue and no final culprit is yet revealed.

Finally, we keep suggesting military vehicles that you might be desire to get to solve traffic problems, loading requirements, and so on. This comes directly from Star Wars.

 

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Top 5 by Venus in Arms – week 56

Also this week we start from Iraq and the battle for Ramadi. Iraq’s government has called for volunteers to fight against Islamic State and help retake the city. Here a report on the current situation.

Looking at the ISIL from a broader perspective we suggest this post by The Monkey Cage. The main question posed by the article is the following: Is the Islamic State an ordinary insurgency?

Moving from Iraq to Libya, the EU has approved the mission against migrant-smugglers. Here a detailed (and skeptical) analysis of the mission.

If you are interested in better understanding the current crisis in Burundi, we suggest to read the comments by the International Crisis Group.Over 20,000 reported to have fled to Rwanda since mid-March fearing electoral violence.

Finally, an interesting focus on the UK election and the surprising decline of “ethnic politics” in Northern Ireland.

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Effective strategic narratives? Italian public opinion and military operations in Iraq, Libya, and Lebanon

Oddly enough, in the new Italian White Paper there are no references to the concept of strategic narratives. On the contrary, many official documents and statements by decision makers have recently emphasized the role played by strategic narratives to enhance the perceived legitimacy of military operations.

Venus in Arms has already addressed the concept of “strategic narratives”, defined by Freedman as: “compelling storylines which can explain events convincingly and from which inferences can be drawn”

Today, we are pleased to present the new paper by Fabrizio Coticchia: “Effective strategic narratives? Italian public opinion and military operations in Iraq, Libya, and Lebanon” (here, gated). The paper has been published in the first issue of the new Italian Political Science Review/Rivista Italiana di Scienza PoliticaIPSR/RISP (now published by Cambridge University Press) provides three fully English-language issues per year. Here additional info on the Journal.

Here below the abstract of the paper:

Public attitudes are greatly shaped by the cohesiveness of the strategic narratives crafted by policy-makers in framing the national involvement in war. The literature has recently devoted growing attention toward the features that define successful strategic narratives, such as a consistent set of objectives, convincing cause–effect chains, as well as credible promises of success. This paper provides an original framework for ‘effective strategic narratives’ for the case of Italy. The military operations undertaken by Italian armed forces in Iraq, Lebanon, and Libya represent the cases through which the framework is assessed. Drawing on content and discourse analysis of political debates and data provided by public opinion surveys, this paper explores the nature of the strategic narratives and their effectiveness.

The author has already addressed the issue of narratives, public opinion and Italian military operations, locking at the case of Afghanistan (here)

The current paper presents two main implications.

First, strategic narratives should not be realistic, but rather compelling. A certain ambiguity of the storyline could be sometimes inevitable due to the gap between long-established values (such as peace or humanitarianism, which are very difficult to modify) and a risky military environment, where those beliefs may appears as extraneous. In these cases, an integrated communication strategy, aimed at preparing the public opinion and avoiding counter-productive rosy pictures, could be crucial to avoid a collapse of approval towards the intervention.

Second, as already tested by literature, casualty aversion per se does not determine the fall of public support. However, mounting insecurity on the ground requires greater flexibility of the narrative to adapt and transform. In this case, a negative narrative dominance (i.e., a more persuasive counter-narrative) could play a fundamental role in hindering the plot’s effectiveness.

ViA will provide additional posts in the near future regarding strategic narratives and other security issues (e.g., the F35). Stay tuned.

 

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Top 5 by Venus in Arms – week 43

Conflict in Libya rages, ISIL is apparantly gaining ground, the Egyptian Air Force bombed Derna, Benghazi and Sirte. Making sense of what happens is tough, and as Libya seems to descend into chaos, The Atlantic’s Matt Schiavenza wonders if the country is turning into Iraq.

Debate on what to do in Libya also rages. While countries debate what to do, it is also important to look back at what they did in the very recent past. Glenn Greeenwald on The Intercept looks with the usually critical eye at the failures of the intervention in Libya of 2011.

In the meanwhile, the cease-fire is hardly holding in Ukraine.  The BBC reports “live” on the events and also provides useful maps. If anything, the crisis in Eastern Europe brought “old” geopolitics back.

With a eye on the risks of escalating the conflict and at the successes of the past, Fred Kaplan on Slate ponders how to defeat Putin. It does not require going to war, but rather thinking about a recasted version of containment.

Venus in Arms is attentive to how war is portrayed in the arts. Last week we featured a post focusing  on Clint Eastwood’s war movies. This is an interview with American Sniper’s screenwriter on what it means to write movies about war (and other stuff).

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