Strategic Thinking and Foreign Policy in the European Union 6

Catherine Ashton visiting war-thorn Benghazi

What EUrope is today increasingly depends on where one sits and assesses the situation.  I’m afraid this is quite a prosaic thing to say; an American will surely see a different thing in the EU than a Sub-Saharan African or an Asian. However dull this may sound Europe should consider applying this approach every time the question of a common European Union strategy in world affairs comes up.  What I mean by this can be considered to be a double-edged sword, as too much concern on how one sees you and what one wants from you may lead you to have doubts about your own identity.  But still, EU has enough doubts in this respect already, so maybe it is high time to try a thorough process of self-assessment through the eyes of others.

Last Friday, September 30th, the conference on ‘Strategic thinking in the European Union’ was organized in Bucharest by the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS, Brussels) and the European Institute of Romania with the support of the Representation of the European Commission in Romania.  The one-day event tried to cover as many issues as possible, from regional strategies (The Danube and the Baltic Sea strategies) to the future of the Europe 2020 growth strategy and, finally, the most cumbersome of them all, the question (of the existence or not) of a European strategic thinking concerning EU foreign policy. I will deal in the next sections with this final topic of the conference, and I will try to explain what I mean by the need of a de-centered self-assessment strategy regarding EU foreign policy.

The four panelists and the moderator tried to discuss in almost one hour the possible definitions of strategy that EU policies in its foreign policy could best embody and discussed cursorily some of its past failures and present challenges. Thomas Renard (EGMONT Royal Institute for International Relations) opened the discussion by placing EU foreign policy in a “post American, post European world” in which emerging powers (BRIC) dared do something unimaginable a few years back, that is to offer solutions to save Europe from its financial impasse.

This scaling down of EU ambitions given the present state of (world) affairs, Thomas Renard suggested, should not mean that Europe must retreat into a small corner, but rather prioritize its interests by re-assessing the situations in which its contribution can still be meaningful.  The most obvious example should be, as I suspect many people in the audience waited to hear and discuss more about, the countries in the Southern neighborhood. The Arab Spring, Renard argued, constituted itself as a central issue in the eyes of European policy makers only after the local democratic struggles appeared to produce a regional problem of massive migration to the North. Moreover, the much revered normative, soft European power was nowhere to be found and we have been witnesses instead only to the hard power of two EU members.

However promising this topic appeared to be, Renard left it at that and raised one last and equally thorny topic:  if EU has a problem, it’s not the lack of strategies on all sorts of topics, but a system that could connect them in a coherent manner. The solution to this, he argued, is to abandon the bottom-up process of decision making, which is stalling any grand EU foreign policy, and find the means to develop a top-down strategy by first agreeing on a number of big priorities that would make EU a proactive instead of a (dimly) reactive actor.

Liliana Popescu (National School of Political and Administrative Studies) structured her argument by first asking what kind of actor EU thinks itself to be. Is it more of a respublica or rather more of a EU Inc.? Despite this very promising lead, she decided to privilege a lengthy discussion of past European external actions that, according to her, could not be called a true foreign policy of a coherent international actor. After this diagnostic, she made an interesting observation, again not actually discussed beyond its formulation: can we already sit and reflect upon the degree of success of the Liberal internationalism premised in EU’s foreign relations since the 1990s? Instead of actually discussing this burning topic in the context of what is called the Arab Spring at Europe’s gates, she followed the more classic discussion of EU faced with an increasingly difficult Russian Federation in the Eastern neighborhood. Given the EU accession dream in some of the Eastern countries, Russia’s own ambitions in the region and increasing authoritarian leanings (The Putin effect), Bruxelles is still very much an actor dependent in many respects on others (US defense capabilities).

The most interesting part of the discussion was opened by Jordi Vaquer (Barcelona Centre for International Affairs). The main topic of his presentation had a lot to do with a topic with which Europeans usually are very uncomfortable, that is geopolitics. And I think that, knowingly or not, Vaquer formulated and confronted us with a contradiction that accounts not only for a patently feeble EU foreign policy, but also for more theoretical arguments on this topic in the academia.  What we should be aware of, Vaquer argued, is that strategic thinking is not geopolitical thinking. Those who are presently seduced by examples of tougher players in world affairs, like China or Russia or, increasingly, even Turkey, should not ignore the price of illiberal, undemocratic governments and how the status of a big power was reached by inconceivable human sacrifice.

If this is the geopolitics he is warning us against, that of Halford Mackinder’s Heartland Theory or that of Luttwak’s American post-Cold War hysteria of geo-economics, then the warning is well taken, as it should be. Vaquer made some sensible observations on the authoritarian leaning states like Turkey which are playing these days dangerous games in the Middle East and Cyprus and this offensive, I would agree with him, has gained in strength in the last five years, as Erdogan’s power consolidated to a considerable degree to the point where opposition has almost nothing to say anymore. However, this is the point in Vaquer’s argument where the paradox of geopolitics’ ghost reveals the paradox I was talking about. Where EU has failed in the Neighborhood Policy, as opposed to the Enlargement Policy towards Easter Europe, is in having planned everything on paper up to the last point, expecting such a grand plan to envelop what was imagined as one region that was expected only to take the administered pills and wait for the recovery.

“The neighborhood is not a region…it is at least two, probably more”. Moreover, Turkey and Russia are deplorably absent from the strategy of economic and political assistance towards the countries of the neighborhood. Another critical observation raised by Vaquer was to point to the biggest failure of EU’s foreign policy is the absence of a real North African policy, a region were, unlike in the Middle East, Europeans can and should have more success in influencing the big picture and real lives.

Agreeing with Renard, he distanced himself from the view that Europe has no strategies, as it possesses more plans and better capabilities to assist in various contexts and emergencies its neighborhood better than any EU member state. Unlike the US in the Middle East or Russia in the Black Sea, Brussels at least can proudly argue that its policies have not produced real disasters. If Europe has a real problem, that is its passivity.

Although I think Vaquer was by far the most courageous speaker in the panel, I disagree with him on three points which I will discuss in the final part: If Turkey’s domestic politics should indeed worry us is for its majoritarian, highly centralized politics (and Erdogan’s view on his presidential republic promise further plans for consolidating his control), the treatment of minorities and its illiberal (authoritarian?) Ergenekon strategy, but it should not be conflated with Turkey’s foreing policy and thus easily discarded. Second, The Middle East is the very centre of a future EU foreign policy worthy of such a name, especially since the word Palestine has not been uttered not even once during this entire discussion. Third, geopolitics is the very heart of the matter, but maybe not geopolitics in the classical sense.

The last discussant, Antonio Missiroli (Bureau of European Policy Advisers), raised a very interesting point: Europe has so many strategic partnerships (10) that the expression starts to sound like the word friend on Facebook. Moreover, these partnerships are stalled by a highly bureaucratized, over institutionalized framework. However, the real hot spot of his contribution was to call the 2003 negotiations around a European Security Strategy as a short window of opportunity for Europeans to agree upon a mechanism of sovereign decision out of a Hobbesian context (homo homini lupus). This moment was lost, and the subsequent attempt to revise the act in 2008 failed. For the future, Missiroli concluded, we need a new Hobbesian moment, without which we are doomed to face an “absolute decline”.

Indeed, what I think is the core of Hobbes’ mental exercise is not that much the state of war as actual violence, but the state of constant and unbearable threat that dooms any human intercourse (actually this is Foucault’s idea more or less). What I took from this insight of Missiroli was an image of Europe as a block, indeed that image of the Hobbesian sovereign whose body is made of all the tiny bodies of its subjects and I suspect this metaphor would have been easily embraced by the general feeling in the audience, whose questions without exception lamented on the absence of ‘real leadership’, which was at one point disadvantageously compared with the US decision making capacity.

Now, coming back shortly to my punctual objections to Vaquer’s really refreshing view, I can’t really say I understand how come we are still mired in such a comparison with the United States, and I will shortly explain myself why I think Europe has a huge chance now, wholly undeserved actually, to be a significant actor quite unlike the US. And here I come again to my second amazement this last Friday. The word Palestine wasn’t mentioned in this whole affair by anyone, not even when sparse allusions were made to a Middle East strategy. How can one still hope to be a significant partner for dialogue in North Africa without thoroughly thinking and what are you going to do in the aftermath of such an obvious moment of rupture once the entire political imagination surrounding the Oslo Agreements has been denounced in the UN assembly?

I am not saying that this failure was not patent already, but shouldn’t you have in the back of your head the crowds in Ramallah saluting this speech when you speak of the Arab Spring? Isn’t this the type of imagination which dares connect various strategies in order to make sense of the big picture, as all panelists asked for? And however reckless and worrying Erdogan’s Ergenekon Affair surely is, can Europe really dismiss the ongoing efforts that the Erdogan-Davutoglu team untiringly along the axis Northern Africa-Middle East? If this strategy is very much problematic, as this proved to be in the almost explosive week during which Israel’s diplomatic corps was under attack in Egypt a few weeks ago, this only proves that this hot spot (or rather axis) should better be approached in a different manner by Europeans themselves.

The other point I wanted to raise, about the need for a new geopolitical imagination, was actually a contingent thought I had once it became obvious that no one will address this issue in that chorus of lamentations on the lack of European leadership like the founding fathers which, quite frankly, I think is the best recipe for killing any interesting EU topic. I may be wrong, but what the so called Arab Spring showed us Europeans is that everything we knew about the Arab world, North Africa, dictatorships and their institutionalized armies is simply dusty and irrelevant. Just like we ought to see now more clearly as the EU policies of democratic assistance in the MENA region with their mostly rigid means of identifying a “worthy” civil society to be showered with funds have failed. If these had been successful in any way, it was mostly to contribute to the grander strategy by which regimes have built means to control and dampen the so-called civil society by selective repression, offering sometimes some carrots too, surely, but in general quite ineffective in stirring anything like that man on fire exasperated by what I imagine was a Kafkaesque world in which some things never happen, you never know whom you can address for to solve your problems, and the state and its institutions are the most elusive and at the same time an inescapable machine.

If the revolts in the South showed us anything we can learn from, is that citizenry is not the same thing with what some bureaucratic criteria identify as ‘civil society’. And sometimes citizenry is embodied by something that transcends actual borders and communicates to people who discover they suffer the same nasty things. This new imagination of citizenry and the new expectations it has raised in the peoples in North Africa and the Middle East towards their states can and has to determine new ways in which we can imagine the geopolitics of religion, of cultures and of newly discovered or re-awakened solidarities. Palestine, without a doubt, is central to this new regional movement and, I think, Turkish leaders seem to be more aware of this than European leaders.  And really now, can we say Europe should envy the US answer to the challenge posed by Palestinians? If anyone is a true prisoner of Oslo, is America without a doubt, and one determined to keep everyone captive in a picture in which no one is comfortable anymore. Between the unimaginative American position and the flamboyant leadership assumed by Turkey on behalf of the Arab world, Europe has more than an opportunity to assert itself. It has a responsibility to finally get on the field and act as an honest witness of the murderous stalemate that keeps Israelis prisoners to a state of war and Palestinians victims to a state of absolute exception, in which an entire people is captive in a web of barbed wire, walls and checkpoints separating school from home and workplace.. .

I don’t think I am as optimist as Jordi Vaquer, who quite rightly deplored the lack of a North African Strategy worthy of its name without naming EU’s failures in the region, first because European bureaucrats should asses who are the people they are talking to in the region and what these people, want from EU, with all that they have sacrificed and all they have gained in these last months. Surely some big sentences in the Action Plans for these countries contain embarrassing notions and solutions for democratic support and civil-military relations. And maybe another ticking bomb sits in the stalled dossier of immigration and the regime Europeans have offered until now to those in need of refuge in the North.

And by this I return, lastly, to a thing that may have been the most interesting point on the agenda of this conference,  a point raised but never discussed by Liliana Popescu when she asked how successful was the premise of a liberal international agenda that EU adopted from the very beginning of its opening towards spaces to-be-democratized in the East and South. Can we really speak of a liberal agenda in Europe’s dealings with North African regimes until 2011? I doubt it.

The EU has been engaged in a phony plan of cooperation for the economic development of the South, its bureaucrats have sometimes incuriously collaborated with the national police forces cum secret agencies cum military forces in order to identify that civil society which was allowed to have a voice. This was rather a result of what Europeans hoped to keep at bay along ethnic/tribal or religious lines in an effort to prevent “things worse than Mubarak”, not to speak of the migration policy towards this countries and the collaboration with their fierce police forces. This management problem that North Africa constituted for a long time, for those up North was not based on liberal, democratic values of individual rights, active citizenry and, in general, civilian politics.

Worryingly enough, the manner in which the migrants from this region are seen as a problem and transformed into EU’s new object of policing is not a heartening premise for a new relationship. This is where I would also disagree with what Liliana Popescu suggested as EU Inc., whose huge market could provide EU its identity as a relevant actor in world politics. The EU has still to learn how to create the means by which it can attract the collaborative interest of its neighborhood around its common market. And in this respect too, Europeans have a thing or two to learn from Turkey’s regional reach.

In the end, I would say that some of the questions raised by the panel are urgent and valuable for the next few years of uncertainty concerning the new political regimes in the South, chiefly a compromise between the voices of the citizens and the space allowed for voice by what looks like a new institutionalization of the armed forces in whatever disguise. The next point that requires consideration is that the previous strategy of bilateral negotiations has to be reconsidered in light of the falls of the ossified regimes that were considered privileged partners until recently. And from this vision of multiple imbrications of actors in the region a new project of what the European market should be could emerge, in which more openings should be created, in a convergent spiral that should determine Turkey to be a central player in this wider Europe-North Africa-Middle East space and not outside of Europe. Palestine is a big challenge that Europe should not ignore. Even failing to enter this debate by prevaricating in all manners is a gesture, but a losing one.

Geopolitics is not to be discarded, but re-imagined, and by this I make full circle and re-connect to the introductory passage. For a very long time Europe asked itself what sort of actor should it be, how strong is in the confrontation with the United States and Russia, the emerging countries and Turkey. If the EU has any chance of finding the beginning of an answer to this question, it should leave behind the anxious comparison with the US type of leadership (what a dreadful word that more often than not leads one to ask quite dusty questions) and find a way to create a larger space around itself, in which the neighborhood is not a problem to be managed, but a pool of actors to be attracted in economic relations, more open and human ways of understanding migration and the workforce. And finally a more liberal understanding of what other societies are and expect from European societies in their turn.

Without such an attempt at de-centering, EU will never get out of a dilemma which asks the question of how to make relevant an EU foreign policy while having to deal with a constant, nagging question in the background: what foreign policy?

Andreea Nicuțar


  1. Mi se pare (poate ca ma insel) ca observ in ultimele tale articole un maximalism moral crescand care, la o adica poate deveni primejdios.

    Doua exemple din acest articol
    „The word Palestine wasn’t mentioned in this whole affair by anyone, not even when sparse allusions were made to a Middle East strategy. How can one still hope to be a significant partner for dialogue in North Africa[…]”

    Palestina nu trebuie sa fie o tema majora pentru Europa decat daca aceasta are ceva util de oferit. Este destul ca SUA si-au atins nivelul de incompetenta in mai multe regiuni ale lumii. Nu trebuie musai sa urmam si noi aceeasi cale. If you ain’t a fixer don’t fix it :).

    „I may be wrong, but what the so called Arab Spring showed us Europeans is that everything we knew about the Arab world, North Africa, dictatorships and their institutionalized armies is simply dusty and irrelevant.”

    Cred ca te inseli :). Fortele trecutului, asa cum erau intelese pana cum, sunt in continuare vii si active.

    Faptul ca ele se amesteca in coalitii flexibile cu forte care ne erau pana zi necunoscute e adevarat. La fel de adevarat mi se pare ca se profileaza un nou concept de cetatenie. Dar cel putin pana ce acest concept nu va fi internalizat temeininc, sub forma unui consens national sau regional rezistent la intemperiile istoriei poate e mai prudent sa nu lansam afirmatii definitive.

    Pe un plan mai general, cred ca orice politica internationala etica e supusa unei tensiuni fundamentale intre scopuri si mijloace.

    La un capat al scalei putem avea o strategie in care actorul politic (sa zicem UE) cauta sa respecte relativ riguros principiile de politica externa pe care le promoveaza. Aceste principii tind sa limiteze libertatea de actiune, iar un asemenea actor va trebui sa se limiteze sa faca doar ceea ce poate. Asta inseamna ca in zona sa de eficienta va fi un actor major, pe cand in alte zone va fi la remorca altora sau nu va fi prezent deloc. Cum dezastrele se intampla peste tot, o asemenea pozitie necesita un anume stoicism moral.

    La celalalt capat un actor cauta sa obtina maximum de schimbare si sa fie o forta pozitiva oriunde se iveste ocazia. Cum ocazii sunt multe, va trebui sa isi dilueze prezenta si sa accepte aliante contra naturii sale morale in logica unui machiavelism de catifea.

    Exista un loc pentru UE, in forma unui compromis pe care il vad apropiat primului caz. Uniunea are o masa destul de mare pentru a nu cadea in irelevanta si a urmari treptat o lume mai buna actionand unde poate si cautand sa ofere un model celor care cauta asa ceva.

    Si da, inainte de a ocupa acest loc este nevoie sa aflam ce scopuri politice isi propune pana la urma Uniunea. Dar ma ingrijoreaza sa vad ca unii promotori ai politicii comune par sa creada ca e posibil sa avem simultan un minim de mijloace (doar cele moral-kantiene) si un maxim de scopuri.

    De regula asemenea utopii, daca sunt urmarite pana la capat, duc ori la revolutii sangeroase ori la paralizia vointei.

  2. Andrei

    Nu stiam ca sunt obiectul unui studiu de lunga durata si care, sa ma simt ingrijorata?, pare ca ma face primejdioasa? Sau poate ca altii ar trebui sa fie ingrijorati:) Poate ca o sa aleg sa iau asta drept un compliment pana la urma:)

    Nu stiu unde ai vazut afirmatii definitive. In pasajul pe care il citezi, dimpotriva, credeam ca spun ca tot ceea ce era ‘afirmatie definitiva’ in privinta acestor societati a fost dat peste cap de ceea ce in linii mari cred ca e descoperirea unui alt mod de a te considera cetatean (in relatia cu ceilalti si cu institutiile statului). Nimic nu mai e definitiv din ceea ce credeam de neclintit din cauza culturii, politicii sau religiei tarilor arabe. Ceea ce stiam despre institutionalizarea fortelor armate in politica civila sau forta traditiei elitelor sau, de cealalta parte, fundamentalismul care ar pandi dupa fiecare colt daca ‘ii lasam liberi in strada”, nimic nu e cum credeam ca ar trebui sa fie. Mai mult, daca spun ca europenii s-au inselat este pentru ca ceea ce era numit proces de democratizare sustinut cu bani si specialisti din Nord era de fapt un proces prin care se spera ca democratia va veni prin ‘cresterea’ in conditii ‘controlate’ a unor ong-uri, care in general activau daca primeau unda verde din partea regimului. O metoda uneori perversa, care facea ca libertatea de exprimare sa se exercite in acelasi timp cu metode de control foarte stricte asupra celor care se exprima (ca sa nu mai vorbim de filtrarea celor care aveau o sansa sa iasa la lumina). Poate ca tie o sa ti se para primejdioasa parerea mea despre modul stupid in care oficialii UE au evitat sa discute cu Fratia Musulmana pe vremea lui Mubarak, eu insa tot o spun: pt multa vreme o parte moderata a Fratiei a fost ignorata de delegatiile europene care pretindeau ca vor dialog cu toata ‘societatea civila’. Poate ca egiptenii ar fi avut mai mult de castigat dintr-un dialog mai degraba agonistic ( nu am cum sa subliniez cuvantul asta, dar e foarte important ) decat in numele vreunui ‘consens’ (cand stim ce inseamna ‘consens’ atunci cand mai esti si arab, vecin cu Israelul, pe un munte de praf de pusca si relativ aproape de ‘diavolul’ insusi, aka Iran:)
    „Fortele trecutului” de care vorbesti tu, adica armata si politia mai ales, nu numai Fratia si alti would-be teroristi:) au crescut la umbra furnizata de UE si SUA. Partea trista, din perspectiva asta a mea primejdioasa, este ca nu numai din cauza exportului de arme, cat mai ales din cauza unei foarte limitate viziuni asupra celor care pot fi ‘parteneri de dialog’ in vederea democratizarii. Daca tu crezi ca democratizarea se poate face cu o mana de birocrati UE care saluta progresele politiei egiptene in timp ce in Egipt nu exista nici cea mai mica urma de habeas corpus si oricine putea ajunge sub tortura, eu zic ca tu te inseli. Democratizarea societatii nu se poate intampla fara a democratiza mai intai institutiile, adica mai ales politica facuta de civili si capacitate institutionala, Asta e alta drama a celor din Sud. Raman la cazul Egiptului pt ca e preferatul meu. Hai sa ne uitam putin la cauzele suportului pt Fratie. Nu-ti fac aici teoria, poate ca stii mai bine ca mine ca aveau sub Mubarak si au inca cea mai buna retea de distributie a bunurilor de stricta necesitate pt cei mai saraci egipteni (categorie considerabila). Nu crezi ca europenii ar fi putut sa ia in considerare mai atent si chestia asta atunci cand vizitau regulat ‘societatea civila’ egipteana dar uitau la fel de regulat sa vorbeasca serios cu baietii astia?
    Sper sa nu sune ca si cum ti-as face lista de lecturi zilele astea, dar poate ca merita sa citesti in The Guardian niste povesti as zice revelatoare despre ‘rendition operations’ cu colaborarea serviciilor secrete americane si britanice (MI5, 6) si de ce castiga egiptenii care dau in judecata UK zilele astea.

    Ma bucur ca ai remarcat partea despre cetatenie. E cea mai pretioasa idee pe care cred ca am putea sa o luam din ‘primavara araba’. Numai ca, spre deosebire de tine, prefer sa gandesc si sa risc sa intrevad posibilitati de pe acum, nu dupa ce vor fi ajuns la un consens si se vor fi asezat apele. Serios acum, cand vom putea vorbin de ‘consens’ in orientul Mijlociu sau Maghreb so that we can then sit and ponder:)

    Sunt destul de sceptica in privinta optimismului tau atunci cand vezi UE ca pe un fel de bunicuta Kantiana. Mijloacele pe care le foloseste in Sud nu as spune ca ne-ar face lumea cu adevarat o pajiste pe care sa doarma lupul cu mielul si nu as zice ca ceea ce numim soft power european poate deveni un imerativ categoric, mai ales cand, vezi mai sus, democratizarea sustinuta de Blair sau altii implica prea multa colaborare cu politia locala cum tortura. Aici nimic nu e alb sau negru, e de discutat, stiu, dar pur si simplu nu pot sa cred ca o societate poate ajunge la o conversatie publica cand una dintre parti, poate majoritara, e exclusa de la masa.

    « Si da, inainte de a ocupa acest loc este nevoie sa aflam ce scopuri politice isi propune pana la urma Uniunea.”
    Suna bine chestia asta, foarte intelept, pragmatic, dar spune-mi, ce facem pana se lamuresc tipii astia care se intalnesc la n-spe mese rotunde pe luna pt a se intreba ce loc ocupa UE in lume si vis-a-vis China, Brazilia, Rusia si glumite despre cine-raspunde-la telefonul-UE? Nu fac aici munca de lamurire, pt ca nu e cazul, dar orice politica externa se formuleaza in timp ce se face. Aici imi amintesc ca unul dintre prezentatori, catalanul (Vaquer), a spus ceva foarte interesant: largirea catre Est s-a intamplat ca o inventie pe masura ce mergeam. Ne-am trezit cu niste polonezi si unguri care au batut la usa, aveau tot felul de probleme, apoi au inceput altii sa bata si a trebuit sa inventam jocul din mers. In Sud, dimpotriva, am plecat la drum cu un plan si cu un teren extrem de bine demarcat in privinta rolurilor si vedem ca am esuat. Mi-a placut ca a spus asta, mi s-a parut curajos, pentru ca de fapt a spus ca intr-o conversatie (cum sunt negocierile EU-tarile MENA spre exemplu) nu presupui pozitii fixe si nealterabile ale partenerilor. Implici, mai pe intelesul tuturor, posibilitatea surprizei, a multiplicitatii pozitiilor, ca sa nu mai pun la socoteala ca o conversatie se poarta nu in vederea consensului dupa care ne putem pune mainile pe burta si muri fericiti, ci pt ca pretuim insasi conversatia. o conversatie care mi-as dori sa dureze pt totdeauna, fara sa speram ca o vom transforma vreodata intr-un monolog. Sper ca nu am devenit prea mistica aici, am in minte o pagina minunata din Michael Oakeshott, The Voice of Poetry in the Conversation of Mankind, deloc mistica, si care spune totul despre valoarea conversatiei care nu dizolva vocile. Nu am cuvinte sa iti spun cat de frumoasa si utila e pagina aia pentru cei care nu se tem sa discute de dragul discutiei, nu numai pt a o castiga.

    As spune mai multe despre politica externa + elementul de surpriza +conversatie, dar ma tem ca devin plictisitoare si, oricum, Oakeshott o face mai bine:)

    Ma tem ca nu am inteles foarte bine sensul ultimei propozitii. Ti-e teama ca asa-zisa bunicuta UE care foloseste doar imperativul categoric in opera ei de binefacere in regiuni mai nefericite ar duce la revolutie sau paralizie? Reiau pe scurt si pun o intrebare: esti convins ca UE a operat potrivit schemei : fac astfel incat actul tau sa poata deveni regula generala (adica ti-ar placea si tie ce ii faci celuilalt). Nu ma gandesc numai la operatiile de ‘rendition’, dar la colaborarea cu ofiterii si politistii pe care, din nefericire, ii revedem facand jocul in Egipt, sau la replierea marilor afaceri deasupra amaratilor care spera in revolutia twitter. Oricum, ce au reusit cei care au iesit in strada, fara nici o indoiala, este sa arate ca oricat de mult ar incerca birocratia din Nord sa tempereze jocul selectand jucatorii si sistemul politico-armat din Sud sa inghete jocul excluzand permanent anumite teme si actori, strada poate strica orice joc. Ce se va intampla de aici, nu e pentru mine sa prevad si nici macar nu am incercat serios, dar cu siguranta a stricat atat planul birocratilor europeni cat si pec el al regimurilor care au cazut si vor mai cadea. Asta e tot. Si da, cred ca UE ar trebui sa recunoasca asta. Si inca un da, cred ca ne inselam daca credem ca in cauza Palestinienilor nu avem mize mai mari pentru calitatea relatiilor cu tarile arabe. Am ridicat tema asta dintr-o cauza foarte simpla. M-a plictisit peste masura faptul ca din cele 90 de minute de discutie (insuficiente pt asa o tema) s-a irosit un timp considerabil pt a se discuta de ce Europa nu e la fel de capabila ca SUA sa raspunda unei provocari internationale. Palestina-Israel e una dintre aceste provocari si Europa nu poate sa spere ca va fi scutita de un raspuns, oricare ar fi el. Chiar si tacerea, asa cum am mai spus. S-ar putea, cum spui tu, ca Europa sa nu aiba mult de castigat din afacerea asta, dar s-ar putea sa aiba mult de pierdut daca face ce a facut si pana acum, sa incerce sa ‘repare’ ca pana acum.

    refuz sa incerc sa imi imaginez ce crezi tu ca ai spus prin ‘maximalism moral’. In articolul precedent am fost tratata drept ‘progresista’ (ceea ce cred ca e un fel de jignire din partea speciei care se chinuie sa se nasca pe meleagurile noastre si care spera sa fie botezata patriota, crestina, de dreapta si geniala probabil). Am refuzat sa mai raspund pentru ca nu poti conversa cu cineva care iti explica colonialismul printr-o glumita de spus la bere-vineri-seara-cu-baietii si apoi iti spune ca nu ai dreptate, desi eu macar am pus la bataie un argument, adica am riscat (si m-am riscat) in speranta unei conversatii (Oakeshott again:). In cazul de fata apreciez un argument bun si accept sa conversez, dar zic sa ramanem la argumente pana cand ne cunoastem intr-atat de bine ca sa putem vorbi despre alegerile mele morale. Si oricum as vorbi mai degraba de o etica aici. In loc de etichete, prefer sa stiu clar de ce sunt acuzata de maximalism moral 🙂

  3. A trebuit sa ma gandesc de ce ai luat mesajul personal, dar cred ca am inteles pana la urma. Eu cred ca anumite alegeri politice (cele de viata si moarte in principal) exprima alegeri morale, sau, daca vrei, o perspectiva morala asupra comportamentului public. Mi se pare de dorit sa putem vorbi trasnparent despre asta. Dar cand vorbesc de maximalism moral eu nu imi permit sa fac o judecata personala (persoanele sunt complexe…) ci ma gandesc ca esti exponenta a unor opinii mai largi, care, daca ating o masa critica pot face bine sau rau. Iar daca „romanul verde” priveste lucrurile mai verde asta e treaba lui

    (intemezzo: trei clarificari
    – nu sunt eu umbra pe care o vezi in coltul ochiului noaptea 🙂 Sincer
    – de acord cu Fratia Musulmana. Orice organizatie conservatoare care pare sa fi gasit o cale reala de a trai in democratie merita interesul nostru
    – UE nu este o bunicuta kantiana. Ar putea fi, exista cerere, poate ca as dori sa fie, dar nu e. II lipseste claritatea intelectuala necesara)

    De ce folosesc deci cuvantul primejdie?
    Cred ca e primejdios sa credem ca UE *trebuie* sa actioneze in Palestina. Incometența în acest dosar e atât de bine documentată încât cred ca prudența e de rigoare
    Cred ca este primejdios să nu vedem în lumea arabă cum forțele trecutului (tribalism, islamism, coruptie, realpolitics) raman pe pozitii. – dar poate aici gandim la fel si ne exprimam diferit.

    Si cum ramane deci, cu Europa?
    „largirea catre Est s-a intamplat ca o inventie pe masura ce mergeam” – da, dar a existat un baseline care raspundea la intrebarile „ce?” (integrare”), „cât” (cât mai mult dar fără a crea dezechilibre) și „cu cine?” (țări democratice, de cultură europeană). Adevarat ca operationalizarea acestor principii s-a re-re-negociat dar existenta unui baseline oferă posibilitatea unei conversatii cu sens. Deci nu vreau plan de actiune strategica, dar vreau 2-3-4 idei majore. Crezi ca sunt pretentios?

    „ce facem pana se lamuresc tipii astia care se intalnesc la n-spe mese rotunde pe luna pt a se intreba ce loc ocupa UE in lume si vis-a-vis China, Brazilia, Rusia si glumite despre cine-raspunde-la telefonul-UE” – nu prea stiu cine suntem „noi” asa ca voi reformula dupa propria placere, cu siguranta deturnand sensul:

    ce ar trebui sa faca UE cand mai mari lumii se strang la masa verde si discuta soarta celor slabi?

    Aici este poate inima contradictiei.Toti am vrea sa creem schimabri pozitive care sa fie:
    – de calitate (=profunde)
    – rapide (=in urmatorii ani, sau macar in timpul generatiei noaste
    – largi (=daca se poate pe toata planeta)

    Cum mijloacele (oricui) sunt limitate, vedem ca periodic revine la moda teoria reactiei in lant, un fel de keynesianism in care investitia in democratizare e multiplicata ad infinitum.

    Eu cred insa ca reactia in lant e o utopie si trebuie sa alegem. Doua din trei maximum, poate nici atat.

    UE daca isi rezolva propriile contradictii va face ce poate (2 din 3, poate 1 din trei), iar in rest va trebui sa suporte cu stoicism imperfectiunea morala a lumii, supravietuind azi pentru a lupta din nou maine.

    (nu m-am putut abtine)

    Ai folosit cuvantul in derizoriu, dar poate capacitatea de a face asemenea alegeri care ne repugna este o forma de „intelepciune”.

    Stiu insa ca inversul capacitatii de a alege si a sacrifica este tocmai maximalismul moral. In cel mai bun ca el duce la paralizia deciziei sau risipa resurselor.

    In cel mai rau caz presiunea psihologica a ineficientei devine prea mare, mintea apeleza la sofisme morale si, la limita, baia de sange devine justificabila (stiu, paragraful asta e simplist, nu ma certa)

  4. Cred ca am complicat lucrurile si am amestecat prea multe aici. Bineinteles ca romanul verde poate crede ce vrea, dar m-a enervat putin faptul ca are impresia ca o conversatie poate fi castigata o data ce l-ai ‘demascat’ pe celalalt drept ‘progresist’ sau altceva. Si nu am inteles ce rost are sa invoci tot ce am scris recent pt a ma plasa in coltul maximalistilor morali. Dar admit ca am scris ‘rasismul lor’ nu din pozitia de observator, admit chiar ca l-am scris pe fuga si furioasa. Si totusi, nu vad nimic acolo care ar putea fi legat intr-un tot coerent cu ultimul articol, pt ca cineva sa ma descopere in pozitia asta de ipocrizie iresponsabila. Pentru ca asta e concluzia diagnosticului tau, cand spui ca e ‘primejdios’ maximalismul meu. Din cauza asta am luat-o personal, pentru ca m-am trezit acuzata de ceea ce credeam ca e acuzatia mea impotriva celor care sunt iresponsabili folosind cu pragmatism etichete ca ‘multiculturalism’, ‘integrare’, ‘civilizatie’ pentru a mentine statu quo, care pt mine e ceva inacceptabil. Iata ca produc eu un tablou oarecum coerent al pozitiei mele, dar ma indoiesc ca la asta te-ai gandit cand ai scris despre maximalismul moral din „ultimele mele articole”. Inca nu inteleg care e ‘firul rosu’ care mi-a tradat asa-zisul maximalism?

    Palestina: nu pare ca avansezi un argument foarte diferit de al meu. Spui ca Europa mai bine isi vede de treaba. Asta a facut si pana acum. Palestinienii au cerut un stat zilele trecute si Europa poate foarte bine sa isi vada de treaba ei. In articol nu am spus decat ca pana si tacerea Europei va fi un raspuns, dar unul care va implica niste costuri, ca orice raspuns. Orice adult stie ca daca se asteapta din partea lui un ‘da’ sau un ‘nu’ dar el amana sau se face ca nu aude, asta nu inseamna ca e scutit de consecintele alegerii sale. Din pacate nu e asa usor. Sau din fericire poate:)
    Ce am spus despre regimul intolerabil al Palestinienilor, care isi trimit copiii la scoala doar daca isi asuma riscul de a-i trimite la un fel de ruleta ruseasca, adultii care trebuie sa treaca in fiecare zi de un checkpoint superarmat pentru a-si uda livada si tinerii care nu pot studia anumite discipline pentru ca nu pot circula liber in teritoriiu si nu pot invata medicina decat intr-un singur oras-toate astea sunt fapte, nu inventia mea si in nici un caz o reactie emotiva a unui maximalist moral iresponsabil. pur si simplu viata de zi cu zi intr-un teritoriu al nimanui.

    Mi-ar fi placut sa nu deturnezi sensul intrebarii mele. E o intrebare pe care mi-am pus-o si mie insami. Intrebarea aia era pt ‘noi’, toti cei care citim si auzim foarte des discutiile astea in ong/think tankuri, reactii oficiale : „europa tb sa isi clarifice obiectivele, europa nu are leadership” blabla. Nu operez cu cele mai bune concepte astazi:) In timp ce isi pun intrebari de felul asta la Bruxelles, niste amarati din Maghreb isi dau foc de disperare azi si darama regimuri vechi de decenii maine. Noi suntem cei care analizam toate chestiile astea, dar nu suntem obligati sa le reproducem fara modificari si sa ne inregimentam in lamentatia generala. Asta era provocarea mea si inca iti fac treaba mult mai usoara, pentru ca nu trebuie sa iti amintesc ca, pe langa criza neasteptata a revoltelor in Sud, Europa deja avea de multa vreme o politica prioritara fata de MENA si strategii pe hartie de ani buni. Nu mai e cazul sa ne intrebam ce prioritati ar trebui sa isi aleaga Europa. Mi-e teama ca prioritatile o aleg pe ea si s-ar putea ca Europa sa sufere un soc foarte curand daca nu se apuca sa vorbeasca cu „provocatorii’ astia, in loc sa isi tot ascuta creioanele ca sa treaca pe hartie cele 3.5 prioritati. Mica mea teza in articol este ca Palestina e o bucata dintr-un peisaj mult mai larg. Daca vrei dovada, urmareste evolutia politicii externe a Turciei in ultimul an si mai ales modul in care s-a insinuat in primavara araba jucand in mare parte si cartea Palestinei. Nu e cel mai sigur sau cel mai linistitor joc cel pe care il joaca Erdogan, dar asta doar arata ca Europa nu poate sa se prefaca ca nu a auzit intrebarea. Daca e adulta:)

    nu am inteles la ce faci aluzie in paragraful despre reactia in lant. pare important, dar nu stiu ce vrei sa spui.
    Bunicuta kantiana e imaginea pe care mi-ai insoirat-o cand ai vorbit despre modul in care EU se complace intr-o utopie kantiana, fiind in acelsi timp lipsita de mijloace. (Nu cred ca ai tintit bine cu nici unul dintre punctele din intermezzo)

    Nu te pot certa pentru ultima fraza, dar o gasesc nedreapta. Nedreapta mai ales pentru ca ai sarit foarte multi pasi intermediari in argumentul tau pentru a putea sa spui ca o ‘baie de sange’ e consecinta unui sofism pe care oricum l-ai formulat in termenii tai. Stiu ca asta e doar un comentariu pe un blog, asa ca nu am cum sa cer un eseu, dar tot e o expresie foarte dura.

  5. In primul rand Andreea, felicitari pentru articol. El scoate in evidenta lipsa de imaginatie atat a politicienilor europeni cat si a celor care reflecta asupra politicii externe si de securitate a UE. In ciuda titlului conferintei nu cred ca exista in momentul de fata o strategie de politica externa si de securitate. Dar acest lucru nu ma surprinde – nu ai cum sa formulezi o politica externa si de securitate cand UE este o suma de 27 de actori internationali suverani si independenti. Din pacate s-a creat un set nerealist de asteptari in privinta PESC de cand a aparut SEAE si UE are un „ministru de externe”.
    In al doilea rand nici solutia ta privind o strategie europeana in acest domeniu nu mi se pare realista. Nu poti sa ignori interesele a 27 de state nationale, fiecare cu un set aparte de interese in raport cu sistemul international. De asemenea o sinteza a acestor interese este imposibila, deoarece o buna parte a acestora sunt competitive.
    In al treilea rand o politica externa articulata pe valori Kantiene este contraproductiva – iti interzice accesul la state care nu impartasesc aceste valori. In plus o asemenea abordare ignora faptul ca politica externa este intemeiata in primul rand pe interese si in al doilea rand pe valori. UE s-ar putea vedea ignorata, in cel mai bun caz, in sistemul international daca este perceputa ca un actor care submineaza regimurile politice ale celorlalte state din sistem prin promovarea acestor valori. Mai mult experienta neo-conservatoare a SUA arata ca o politica externa bazata pe valori si nu pe interese este o reteta pentru dezastru.
    In fine nu inteleg de ce consideri SUA un adversar al UE. SUA a sprijinit
    procesul de integrare europeana si garanteaza, inca, securitate continentului. Rusia este un actor care incearca sa submineze UE, nu America.

  6. George, nu ma avant sa discut despre kantianismul UE pentru ca nu eu am deschis subiectul asta. Mai mult, nu cred ca este deloc util in logica argumentului meu, unde, mai voalat sau nu, acuzam tocmai o asa-zisa agenda universalista (1) in numele careia s-au propus niste politici deloc adaptate fiecarei situatii si (2) in spatele careia regimurile birocratic-militare au fost sprijinite pe termen lung. deci discutia despre kantianism la Andrei:)

    Nu vad unde as fi zis ca SUA ar fi dusmanul UE. Am spus doar ca in panel si in intrebari s-a vorbit foarte mult despre avantajul net superior pe care l-ar avea SUA pentru ca au un sistem unificat de luare a deciziilor. Eu doar am dat un exemplu care arata, si aici pot fi contrazisa si mai stam de vorba, ca SUA nu pare sa aiba prea multa imaginatie, chiar daca poate decide mai usor decat 27 de state. Exemplul era Palestina, unde EU ar avea o oportunitate sa arate ca poate face ceva in materie de politica externa, nu numai pentru ca e un conflict atat de vechi, ci si pentru ca are legaturi atat de intense, sa zicem, cu restul societatilor care se afla in Primavara araba.

    acum legat de caracterul periculos sau utopic al articolului: in continuare nu vad unde am avansat vreo solutie, sau reteta. Cred ca am fost destul de prudenta (prea prudenta chiar) pentru a evita orice solutie, in favoarea sublinierii unor capitole care mie imi pare ca ar fi urgente in agenda UE, fie ca cei 27 vor asta intr-un fel, in 27 de feluri sau in 54:) Sudul (MENA) e cel mai sus pe lista imaginata de mine, avand in vedere cat de mare e tensiunea intre structurile vechiului regim (birocratii, armata, marii bogatasi), fundamentalisme, democrati (si altii in zone mai gri) intr-o regiune in care nu mai poti discuta cu fiecare stat in parte fara sa tii cont de ‘vecinatate’.

    Ultimul punct, pe care nu am cum sa il dezvolt aici, dar am in minte un articol genial al lui RBJ Walker, International, Imperial, Exceptional: With But Mainly Against Kant (pe care il pot trimite celor interesati:) e foarte folositor pentru a ne mai scoate putin din amorteala & inertia in care il plasam de obicei pe Kant si ‘pacea universala’. Ca sa te fac si mai curios, Walker il pune in compania lui Schmitt mai mult decat ne-ar placea sa il credem, in amorteala pe care o invatam la scoala 🙂

    ce as vrea cel mai mult sa subliniez este disocierea mea de abordarea ‘kantiana’ a democratizarii Sudului (sau a modernizarii, civilizarii lui etc 🙂 Sunt exact in tabara opusa, de aceea am incercat sa subliiez cuvantul Agonism in raspunsul pt Andrei. Deci nu Kantianism, ci Agonism. Pe intelesul celor care nu apreciaza neaparat teoria politica, as prefera ca politica externa a EU sa ia mai mult in considerare posibilitatea dialogului fara a se drapa cu tema democratizarii atunci cand se asaza la masa dialogului, pentru a exclude mai apoi actori esentiali in orice dialog constructiv.

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