June has been a very busy month for Venus in Arms. In fact, we have presented our research at several academic conferences/public workshops around Italy and Europe (while watching almost all the matches of the 2014 World Cup)
Here below you’ll find a very brief list of the main issues we faced in our papers.
1) White Paper 2014
Venus has provided its contribution to the current preliminary debate regarding the forthcoming White Paper 2014. After a two-days meeting with practitioners, “experts” and academics, the Ministry of Defense has collected several policy papers full of (general) suggestions and recommendations on the White Paper. Here the link to the document.
2) The Italian Left and Foreign Policy
ViA has presented the paper “The Irrelevance of Radical Parties in Coalition Foreign Policy: Italy and the Extremity Hypothesis”, (with Jason Davidson), at the conference “The Italian Left and Foreign Policy” (Cambridge, 9th June 2014). The next Italian presidency of the EU and the recent political success of Renzi have been the issues at the stake.
In our paper we’vefocused on Italy’s post-Cold War center-left governments and decisions on military operations. Scholarly consensus suggests that coalition governments produce more polarized foreign policies than single party governments. This, the literature argues, is especially likely when coalition governments include radical parties that take extreme positions on foreign policy issues and are “critical” to the government’s survival as the radical parties push the centrist ones toward the extremes. The case of Italy provides an important counterpoint to the polarization hypothesis. In all cases we’ve analysed (Albania 1997, Kosovo 1999, and Afghanistan 2007), the parties took a position against military operations but did not prevent the government from engaging in/extending operations by threatening survival or forcing the government’s fall. What are the possible explanations of the irrelevance of leftist radical parties in Italy?
A) Radical parties are reluctant to threaten/force government collapse as this can lead to a center right coalition coming to office and voters’ blame for the outcome;
B) Relative salience has been critical: foreign policy has been less important to radical parties than domestic issues and it has been more important to center-left parties than radical ones;
C) Radical parties have appealed to their voters through theatrical politics (e.g., attending protests) and have affected the implementation of military operations.
Here you’ll find a link to the presentation.
3) The transformation of Italian Armed Forces
We have discussed the paper: “The Redesigning of Italian Armed Forces in a Time of Crisis”, focusing on the co-evolution of budget and doctrine in the post-2001 Italian defense policy. We have illustrated the preliminary findings of our research. All the results will be collected in the forthcoming: “Adapt, Improvise, Overcome? The Transformation of Italian Armed Forces in Comparative Perspective”, Ashgate.
4) Technological innovation and demographic trends
ViA participated at the SGRI VII Annual Conference in Trento (26-28 June 2014). We’ve presented a paper on the growing importance of technology in international politics, focusing on innovation, relevant actors in R&D process, military equipments.
The paper (“Diffusion or concentration? The geography of technological innovation”) was part of a broader research agenda on demography and security. A very interesting panel has hosted several contributions on such topic.
What will be the world’s demographic outlook in 2035? What factors will shape it and with what consequences? The world’s population is expected to reach more than 8.7 billion by 2035, but this growth will be unbalanced with diverse regional trends and impacts. Demographic factors – fertility rates, life expectations, migration, population age and composition – do not develop in isolation, but interact with other trends in the economic, technological, environmental, health, energy and political domains to shape complex evolutionary scenarios. The panel has hosted papers looking at the demographic trends and their relationship with trends in the aforementioned areas, to provide a forecast of how they will interact by 2035.
5) The determinants of the Italian military intervention in Libya
Venus discussed another paper at the SGRI Conference: “A two-level game? The determinants of the Italian military intervention in Libya: strategic culture, international norms and domestic dynamics” (with Michela Ceccorulli). We’ve illustrated the preliminary research on the ways through which Italy adopts military tools in order to face non-military threats (PRIN project: The Italian Foreign Policy in front of the new challenges of the international system: actors, institutions and policies”).
The paper focuses on the 2011 naval operation in Libya, which is a paradigmatic case regarding the growing interaction of new security challenges: region instability, transnational organized crime, and illegal immigration. Why has Italy employed the military instrument to face transnational and non-military threats? The paper looks at the political debate over the decision-making process, assessing three possible determinants for decisions: strategic culture, international norms and domestic dynamics.
So, a very busy month. After the (deserved) summer break we will be also at the SISP Annual Conference (Perugia 11-13 September). See you there.