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SHANDONG UNIVERSITY
山东大学
School of Political Science and Public Administration
MASTERS IN INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
How the ...
negotiated decisions by the member states. The institutions are: the European
Commission, the Council of the European Unio...
It has deployed peacekeeping missions to Africa, Middle East and West Asia3
. It
is almost like a state, the EU is current...
and one another.” (p733) This means that at the heart of the EU is geopolitics
and realism but as Moravcsik writes in conf...
Morgan also argues that the EU nations never abandoned their geopolitical
goals and their support for multilateral organis...
liberal ideas…Russia is a realist nation, it can only understand the language of
hard power and similar deterrence.
For Mo...
economic interdependence, and democracy… but this grand scheme went awry
in Ukraine. The crisis there shows that realpolit...
natural gas to the European Union. In 2007, the European Union imported from
Russia 185 million tonnes of crude oil, which...
But as Hedley Bull warned in 1982, the EU cannot go anywhere by being a
civilian power, as described by Francois Duchene o...
States, to maintain the sovereignty of the individual members but to have a
united security front to deal with issues like...
circle-europe-in-unusual-incidents/2014/10/29/6098d964-5f97-11e4-827b-
2d813561bdfd_story.html . Retrieved 17 February 201...
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A Call to Realism: How the ukrainian Crisis Exposed the Weak EU

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Despite being all that a state should be and more, the EU is still unable to effectively move past some foreign policy hurdles. The Ukrainian Crisis, which was sparked by the EU is an example of the weak EU foreign policy. This paper argues that the EU, due primarily to its structure, makes it vulnerable in times of crisis such as the Ukrainian Crisis. The paper suggests that the EU can become a better player, and a stronger one by becoming more like the United States, with member states’ maintaining sovereignty over many issues but with a united and centralized foreign policy and security front.

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A Call to Realism: How the ukrainian Crisis Exposed the Weak EU

  1. 1. SHANDONG UNIVERSITY 山东大学 School of Political Science and Public Administration MASTERS IN INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS How the Ukrainian Crisis Exposed the EU’s Weakness Presented By Bright Mhango (M2013071) (European Politics) February 2015 How the Ukrainian Crisis Exposed the EU’s Weakness The European Union (EU) is a politico-economic union of 28 member states it operates through a system of supranational institutions and intergovernmental
  2. 2. negotiated decisions by the member states. The institutions are: the European Commission, the Council of the European Union, the European Council, the Court of Justice of the European Union, the European Central Bank, the Court of Auditors, and the European Parliament. The EU is considered a rational player in international relations and it has its own foreign policy. But as Ginsberg 2001 (class notes) puts it, ‘it is because foreign policy is widely associated with nation states that the EU is overlooked as an international political actor by many who study international relations,’ p.12 As a body, it meets various crises such as the Kosovo War in 1999. For its military needs, the EU usually banks on the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) forces, as it did in toppling the Libyan regime under Gaddafi. Apart from NATO, the EU has a de facto standby army… after the Kosovo War in 1999, the EU made strides to ‘have the capacity for autonomous action, backed by credible military forces, the means to decide to use them, and the readiness to do so, in order to respond to international crises without prejudice to actions by NATO.’ As a result, the result was initiatives such as the Helsinki Headline Goal a military capability target set for 2003 during the December 1999 Helsinki European Council meeting with the aim of developing a future European Rapid Reaction Force and the EU Battlegroups initiative which can quickly deploy military personnel if needed1 . But as Paul says, ‘The EU states have never felt the need to make the organization into a powerful military alliance. They already have NATO to undertake that task2 .’ The Maastricht Treaty in 1992 set up the Common Foreign and Security Policy, which it said "might in time lead to a common defence". But that is not coming into fruition soon and these initiatives are seen as slowly moving in that direction. 1 New force behind EU foreign policy BBC News – 15 March 2007 2 Wilkinson, Paul. International Relations. Oxford University Press. p. 100
  3. 3. It has deployed peacekeeping missions to Africa, Middle East and West Asia3 . It is almost like a state, the EU is currently negotiating trade agreements with the United States Despite being all that a state should be and more, the EU is still unable to effectively move past some foreign policy hurdles. The Ukrainian Crisis, which was sparked by the EU is an example of the weak EU foreign policy. This paper argues that the EU, due primarily to its structure, makes it vulnerable in times of crisis such as the Ukrainian Crisis. The paper suggests that the EU can become a better player, and a stronger one by becoming more like the United States, with member states’ maintaining sovereignty over many issues but with a united and centralized foreign policy and security front. EU foreign policy background Many scholars, such as the realist Robert Kagan (2003) argue that the EU follows a Kantian Liberal model in contrast to the United States which pursues a Hobbesian Realist model. Kagan says the Europeans do not have the will and capacity to acquire the military capabilities that the US has and as such cling to Kantian international law. The realist paradigm assumes an anarchic international state system, a conception of political units as independent sovereign states, and the primacy of military power. The EU does not easily fit into this mould as it is not a unitary sovereign body. The EU is not all Kant, as much as it puts a lot of faith in bodies such at the UN, WTO and ICC, some European nations are eager to ignore the UN as they did when they went to war with Serbia over Kosovo in 1999. But as Sebastian Rosato states “The European Community is best understood as an attempt by . . . France and Germany . . . to balance against the Soviet Union 3 Council of the European Union (April 2003)."Overview of the missions and operations of the European Union". Europa web portal. Retrieved 16 February 2015.
  4. 4. and one another.” (p733) This means that at the heart of the EU is geopolitics and realism but as Moravcsik writes in confirmation saying over six decades, economic interest dominated European integration, with geopolitics playing a secondary role4 . It is this lack of focus on geopolitics that is coming to haunt the EU now. As Robert Kagan (2003: 1) sees it the EU looks at the world as ‘moving beyond power into a self-contained world of laws and rules and transnational negotiation and entering a post-historical paradise of peace and relative prosperity, the realization of Immanuel Kant’s perpetual peace.’ Morgan (2005) also says that the democratic peace theory which says that democracies are unlikely to war with each other stems for the reinterpreting of Kant’s Perpetual Peace. He also says that the democratic peace theory is at the heart of European Foreign Policy. (p.201) He argues that despite the EU not being enthusiastic about spreading democracy to other nations like the US is, their demand that nations be properly democratic before they join the EU is an indicator that the EU is at par with the US in terms of commitment to democracy. Part of European dormancy would stem from the fact that the Europeans have always rode on the back of the United States which has played a major role in trying to balance out communist nations, but as Morgan argues, the Europeans are now exposed now that the US having defeated the communist nations, is now focusing on some other areas such as the Middle East. Which not only leaves the EU prone to dogs like Russia but also inflames the Muslims inside Europe who might harm Europeans because to some fanatics, the EU and the US are one. The EU, cannot for example use significant NATO force without the agreement of the United States. 4 Andrew Moravcsik (2013) Did Power Politics Cause European Integration? Realist Theory Meets Qualitative Methods, Security Studies, 22:4, 773-790, DOI: http://www.princeton.edu/~amoravcs/library/integration.pdf
  5. 5. Morgan also argues that the EU nations never abandoned their geopolitical goals and their support for multilateral organisations is just an attempt to further their interests without causing alarm. He gave an example of the United States which supported the creation of bodies such as the UN to ultimately further its goals without causing panic in the international order. Many scholars have countered Kegan’s realism by arguing that Europe has alternative and equally important forms of power, such as economic power, civilian power, and the power of influence or goodwill (Haseler, 2004; Moravcsik, 2002; Reid, 2004; Rifkin, 2004). The EU, as Morgan agrees should do more to become a unitary state. The US has been where the EU is now, since its establishment in 1777, the US had statutes that gave each member state sovereignty. And this internal sovereignty, writes Morgan (2005), meant that: ‘the Confederacy could neither protect itself effectively from its foreign enemies, nor enter into binding agreements with foreign allies. While the US Constitution went some way to remedying this problem, the Constitution did not establish anything resembling a unitary sovereign state. The United States thus remained at the mercy of European powers like France and Britain.’ (p.205) To become a superpower, as some EU fans desire, the Europeans must centralise their political might and charge ahead as one body and in Morgan’s words: ‘If neoclassical realists are correct, the EU can only become a superpower by following in the path of other superpowers and forming itself into a unitary sovereign superstate,’ and he adds, cheekily, ‘the alternative is for Europe to remain dependent for its security on the United States.’ To solve the crisis in Ukraine, with a defiant Putin fuelling the flames from the East, the EU needs more than Kant or the UN or sanctions or more generally,
  6. 6. liberal ideas…Russia is a realist nation, it can only understand the language of hard power and similar deterrence. For Morgan (2005) a better model would be that of the United States of America, “which combines a political system that is highly centralised in some areas (foreign and military affairs, revenue raising, and immigration) and highly decentralised in others (education, police forces, and medical care). There is no reason why a unitary sovereign Europe cannot introduce a similar political system of government,” (P.206) Ukrainian Crisis background The European Union spent years trying to perfect an association agreement with Ukraine and then suddenly in 2013 the Ukrainian president announced that he would not sign the deal (Spiegel, 2014). In November of 2013 tens of thousands of Ukrainians who had been hoping to get even closer to Europe stormed the streets and public squares in Ukraine to voice anger over what they called lack of accountability of the ruling elite and bowing to Russian pressure. (BBC, 2014). Mearsheimer points to the West as the architects of the crisis in Ukraine, writing on Foreign Affairs, he argued that the West’s ‘triple package of policies -- NATO enlargement, EU expansion, and democracy promotion -- added fuel to a fire waiting to ignite. The spark came in November 2013, when Yanukovych rejected a major economic deal he had been negotiating with the EU and decided to accept a $15 billion Russian counteroffer instead.’ Mearsheimer argues that elites in the United States and Europe have been blindsided by events only because they subscribe to a flawed view of international politics saying those leaders tend to ‘believe that the logic of realism holds little relevance in the twenty-first century and that Europe can be kept whole and free on the basis of such liberal principles as the rule of law,
  7. 7. economic interdependence, and democracy… but this grand scheme went awry in Ukraine. The crisis there shows that realpolitik remains relevant -- and states that ignore it do so at their own peril.’ The launching of The European Neighbourhood Policy in 2004, to the EU citizens is a simple tool to strengthen cooperation and to spread Western values. The drafters of the policy seem to be oblivious what engaging Ukraine in such treaties would entail and the current crisis is the result of that negligence. As this paper is tendered in, in February of 2015, the demonstrations in Ukraine brewed into a full scale civil war with those sympathetic to Russia, mainly from the east of Ukraine vowing to break away from Ukraine. The war has displaced about a million people and claimed over 5000 people. For some, the intent by Europe to expand eastward has created one of the biggest issues for European foreign policy since the Cold War. For its part, the EU had negotiated a nearly 1,000-page treaty, but officials in Brussels hadn't paid close enough attention to the realities of those power politics. Even in Berlin, officials for too long didn't take Russian concerns -- about the encroachment of NATO and the EU into Eastern Europe -- seriously enough. The idea that Moscow might be prepared to use force to prevent a further expansion of the Western sphere of influence didn't seem to register with anyone. In the Ukrainian case, Europe is faced with a realist Russia under Putin. Despite the many rounds of sanctions that Europe has lambasted Russia with, Russia is not toning down its defiance in what Mearsheimer believes to be one of those instances where nations are willing to absorb just to protect their core interests. Russia also maintains an advantage on Europe, which has to rely on Russian energy to stay warm and to grease the economy. The Russian Federation supplies a significant volume of fossil fuels and is the largest exporter of oil and
  8. 8. natural gas to the European Union. In 2007, the European Union imported from Russia 185 million tonnes of crude oil, which accounted for 32.6% of total oil import, and 100.7 million tonnes of oil equivalent of natural gas, which accounted 38.7% of total gas import5 . In any case where Russia can switch off the energy supply, Europe can suffers huge economic and human losses. It is not just energy, Russia also buys most of the European agricultural output, and this has already been demonstrated with Russia banning the importation of some of Europe’s products. Europe came to this by believing too much in interdependence as a way out of conflict. Liberal Kantian ideals fooled the Europeans, they did not stop to have alternatives and to see the world as a cruel one where selfishness is virtue. Now the Russian president can safely call the shots on Ukraine a nation that is supposed to be independent. If Europe was like the United States, with its own army and cognizant of the realpolitik of international relations, Russia would not be bullying Europe as it is doing. There are now reports that Russia is floating submarines and violating EU airspace on an almost daily basis6 , Russia cannot do this with the US or China, its neighbour. The biggest hurdle in Europe’s foreign policy, as Morgan (2005) also noted, is a fragmented Europe and an electorate with different values. The people heading Europe have no clout in important matters. The European leaders are sceptical of a centralised Europe and the anti-EU movement is fast picking up speed on the ground. 5 "Energy Dialogue EU–Russia. The Tenth Progress Report." (PDF). European Commission. November 2009. pp. 4–6. Retrieved 24 January 2010. 6 Birnbaum, M (2014) NATO says Russian jets, bombers circle Europe in unusual incidents retrieved from: http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/nato-says-russian-jets-bombers-circle-europe-in-unusual- incidents/2014/10/29/6098d964-5f97-11e4-827b-2d813561bdfd_story.html
  9. 9. But as Hedley Bull warned in 1982, the EU cannot go anywhere by being a civilian power, as described by Francois Duchene or a normative power as proposed by Ian Manners. The EU needs to be a force, a military force replete with nuclear deterrents and a force ready to deploy at a moment’s notice. As Stelios Stavridis also argues, the EU can still be a civilian or normative power but it also needs to have military power in tow. And in his words it is because ‘it is only by wielding military power that civilian ends can be pursued. Force can be necessary to promote human rights and democratic principles, and the EU should not hesitate to use it for those purposes.7 ’ In summary, the EU, a body obsessed with Kantian modules and liberal intent, has been since its formations and until now, trying to ignore the significance of looking at the world in realist terms. Whether because the internal rivalry between the big EU powers makes it hard to make a properly united front or simply because of over-reliance on the United States for security…whatever the reasons, the EU finds itself vulnerable to an aggressive Russia, an uninterested US and a hoard of crises creeping over its wars. The crises include the growing Islamic extremism, trade issues and an increasingly hostile Russia. The EU finds itself in 2015, with a lot of money, influence and civilian capabilities but crises like the one ongoing in Ukraine expose the weak soft underbelly of EU foreign policy. Anyone with a sharp twig can poke at it and the result will only be huge talk and little action and with Russia able to absorb the rhetoric and sanctions and with an advantage of being the guarantor of EU energy security and also buyer of EU goods, the EU is left with no options and once more has to rely on the US to do its dirty work. Realists past and present have urged the EU to never ignore the realism that once made Europe fierce. The solution is for the EU to be like the United 7 Class notes, Lecture number 8, Civilian Power VS Military Power Karen Smith 2005 – Slide number 33.
  10. 10. States, to maintain the sovereignty of the individual members but to have a united security front to deal with issues like the one it faces now in Ukraine and embodied in the nation of Russia. Bibliography "Energy Dialogue EU–Russia. The Tenth Progress Report." (PDF). European Commission. November 2009. pp. 4–6. Retrieved 17 February 2015. Andrew Moravcsik (2013) Did Power Politics Cause European Integration? Realist Theory Meets Qualitative Methods, Security Studies, 22:4, 773-790, DOI: http://www.princeton.edu/~amoravcs/library/integration.pdf. Retrieved 17 February 2015 BBC (2014) Ukraine Profile http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe- 18010123. Retrieved 17 February 2015 Birnbaum, M (2014) NATO says Russian jets, bombers circle Europe in unusual incidents retrieved from: http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/nato-says-russian-jets-bombers-
  11. 11. circle-europe-in-unusual-incidents/2014/10/29/6098d964-5f97-11e4-827b- 2d813561bdfd_story.html . Retrieved 17 February 2015 Council of the European Union (April 2003)."Overview of the missions and operations of the European Union". Europa web portal. Retrieved 16 February 2015. Mearsheimer, J (2014) Why the Ukraine Crisis Is the West’s Fault: The Liberal Delusions That Provoked Putin retrieved from http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/141769/john-j-mearsheimer/why-the- ukraine-crisis-is-the-wests-fault on 18/02/15 Morgan, G. (2005). 'Realism and European Political Integration: The Lessons of the United States', Journal of European Political Science, 4/2: 199- 208 retrieved from http://isites.harvard.edu/fs/docs/icb.topic207175.files/Realism_EI.pdf. Retrieved 16 February 2015 New force behind EU foreign policy BBC News – 15 March 2007. Retrieved 16 February 2015 Spiegel (2014) Summit of Failure: How the EU Lost Russia over Ukraine http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/war-in-ukraine-a-result-of- misunderstandings-between-europe-and-russia-a-1004706.html. Retrieved 16 February 2015 Wilkinson, Paul. International Relations. Oxford University Press. p. 100.

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