Recent Publications 53:3

Contributions for this issue were received from Andrea Aversano Stabile, Giuseppe Fersini, Mihaela Luchian, Federico Mascolo.

Europe and Iran : the nuclear deal and beyond / Cornelius Adebahr. - London; New York: Routledge, 2017. - x, 186 p. - (Routledge studies in European foreign policy; 5). - ISBN 978-1-138-20104-0; 978-1-315-51329-4 (ebk)
In this book, Cornelius Adebahr, political analyst and non-resident fellow at Carnegie Europe, investigates the significance of the presence of the European Union (EU) in the process that led to the signature of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with Iran to counter its nuclear programme.
Europe and Iran: The Nuclear Deal and Beyond is the outcome of an in-depth study aimed at answering the following research questions: “What is Europe’s distinct role vis-à-vis Iran and its nuclear programme?”; “To what extent is this role based on, and representative of, the EU’s signature foreign policy approach?”. Analysis of the EU’s actorness and effective multilateralism allows the author to assess Europe’s role during the bargaining process and to evaluate its overall performance. After the introductory section, Chapters 2 and 3 provide a brief overview of the topics subsequently tackled, defining the concepts of actorness and effective multilateralism and offering a cursory outline of Iran’s political system and foreign policy.
Chapters 4 to 6, in answer to the first research question, illustrate the EU’s actorness on the nuclear file as set out by its foreign policy approach (mandate, policy, apparatus). They look at the sanctions put in place against Iran (self-presentation, instrument), and investigate the EU’s relationship with the United States on the subject (external dimension). With respect to the latter, apart from some initial (and a few permanent) divergences, the EU and the US ended up choosing a “dual-track approach” that eventually yielded results.
Chapters 7 to 9 try to answer the second research question, “To what extent is this role based on, and representative of, the EU’s signature foreign policy approach?”, by focusing first on the beginning of the Iranian nuclear programme, thus justifying the EU’s participation in the talks (preparedness to act). The author then describes the multilateral frameworks affected by Iran’s nuclear programme, referring to the Non-Proliferation Treaty and the roles played by the United Nations and the International Atomic Energy Agency (UN umbrella, multilateral regime) and highlights the three phases of negotiations with Iran in which the EU was involved (cooperation with “strategic partners”). While the initial debate conducted by France, Germany and the UK on behalf of the EU, and the successive round involving China, Russia and the US proved unsuccessful, the third and last effort ultimately led to the conclusion of a deal.
After a summary of the main contents of the agreement, Chapters 10 and 11 theorize possible developments from an European perspective following the adoption of the JCPOA, emphasising the need for transatlantic coordination to avoid an escalation of tension in the area. In relation to this, the author suggests that the EU play a leading role in fostering regional cooperation in the critical territories of the Gulf and the Middle East, thus overcoming transatlantic hesitations over the strategy to adopt.
As stated in the concluding chapter, while there can be no doubt concerning the EU’s actorness on the nuclear file, the multilateral approach adopted throughout the twelve years of negotiations from 2003 onward, only proved to be effective in the long run. Since the period of negotiations coincided with the ‘coming-of-age’ of the EU on the international arena, the success of the nuclear deal and the development of the EU can be seen as intertwined. Adebahr points out that the prominent role played by the EU in this long-drawn out process supports the argument that the EU aims to become an increasingly important actor on the international scene, “responsible for global security” as set down in the 2016 Global Strategy. Nevertheless, the author regrets the lack of public attention the JCPOA has received, since he considers it the EU’s most notable achievement in foreign policy to date, in spite of the recent decision of the Trump presidency to withdraw from the agreement. The writing style is refined and although it specifically targets a well informed audience, the book is also suitable for providing non-experts with some initial insight into the nuclear deal.

Andrea Aversano Stabile
Istituto Affari Internazionali (IAI), Rome

 

A civil-military response to hybrid threats / edited by Eugenio Cusumano and Marian Corbe. - Cham : Palgrave Macmillan, 2018. - xxxii, 319 p. - ISBN 978-3-319-60797-9; 978-3-319-60798-6 (ebk)
Hybrid threats and warfare have recently become the centre of a lively debate within the security community. Many critics have called terms such as ‘hybridity’ and ‘resilience’ empty buzzwords. Indeed, a threat composed of conventional, non-conventional and subversive modi operandi is difficult to understand and therefore to respond to. The aim of this book is to help understand what hybrid threats are, how they work and why civil-military cooperation is useful in responding to them. The editors, Eugenio Cusumano, assistant professor at Leiden University, and Marian Corbe, officer in the German Armed Forces, experienced the “unbearable vagueness of hybridity” first-hand when working as researchers at the Civil Military Cooperation Centre of Excellence in The Hague.
Grasping the multi-layered nature of the debate, A Civil-Military Response to Hybrid Threats offers the reader both useful insights and a guide for navigating through concepts, methods, actors and cases. Its added value lies in its management of dichotomies such as civil and military, academia and practice, research and policy. The volume is divided into three parts addressing, respectively, theory, actors and practice. The broad theoretical first part introduces the subject to non-expert audiences. It provides different perspectives on methods and concepts in civil-military cooperation, which are addressed respectively by academic (chap. 2), military (chap. 3) and legal (chap. 4) researchers. The theoretical approach of Chapter 2 confirms that the literature does little or nothing to clarify this ‘vagueness’, but the large body of empirical research (military and legal) presented in the other two chapters achieves the volume’s aim perfectly.
The second part shifts the focus to actors involved in countering hybrid threats within civil-military cooperation structures. In Chapters 5 to 7 the core topics are armed forces’ relations with private military and security companies and humanitarian organisations. These relations are analysed to put each actors’ beliefs, motives, and objectives in a matrix that explains how interactions often result in different patterns of cooperation, conflict and transformation. The last chapter of the second part analyses the challenges European institutional actors face in creating and implementing effective policy instruments to counter hybrid threats, such as sanctions and strategic communication.
The third part presents case studies in which civil-military cooperation has been crucial in countering hybrid threats. While most of the literature has focused on Eastern Europe and to a lesser extent the Middle East, the authors try to widen the scope to other areas and conflicts. Hence, the concluding chapters of the volume present five case studies of civil and military cooperation in resilience building operations as a response to hybrid threats. Starting with the United Nations’ environmental understanding efforts during the MINUSMA peacekeeping operation in Mali, the other cases examined are the civil-military cooperation component of Lebanese forces during the ISAF mission in Afghanistan; the conceptualisation of cyber domains in the Ukrainian conflict; civil-military cooperation as an enabler of societal resilience in Baltic states and, finally, a parallel between hybrid threats in East Asia and the Euro-Atlantic region.
Clear and well structured, the book achieves its aim. It will definitely become a reference point for those studying civil-military cooperation approaches to counter societal destabilisation. Given the common challenge of building societal resilience, the book is a call for academics and practitioners to further theoretical sophistication and empirical richness: together they are recognised as the only ways to avoid excessive complexity or vagueness in dealing with hybrid threats and hybrid warfare.

Giuseppe Fersini
Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, and University of Trent
giuseppe.fersini@studenti.unitn.it

 

The privatization of warfare and inherently governmental functions : private military companies in Iraq and the State monopoly of regulated force / Nicolai Due-Gundersen. - Cambridge [etc.] : Intersentia, c2016. - ix, 210 p. : ill. - ISBN 978-1-78068-379-9
Two events in Iraq, the Abu Ghraib Prison scandal in 2004 and the Nisour Square massacre in 2007, both involving private military companies (PMCs), shed light on the fact that such companies are getting ever closer to the core of armed conflict. This has generated a wide debate on the legitimacy of PMCs’ activities.
In this book, Nicolai Due-Gundersen, a PhD candidate in political science at Kingston University London, inquires how and if the outsourcing of politically and militarily sensitive tasks erodes the state monopoly on regulated force and, consequently, public perceptions of state legitimacy. The research, set in the context of traditional and political definitions of the state’s obligations to its subjects, explores the nature of legitimacy according to Fabienne Peter’s approach, which claims that while legitimacy is still the preserve of national states, it is increasingly shared with international governing bodies and their global rules. To do so, it takes into account the public discourse and “self-discourse” of PMCs related to two scandals: CACI International Inc. and Blackwater.
In the first part of the book, the author provides background information on the contemporary history of PMCs and an analytical overview of recent regulatory attempts, such as the Montreux Document on Pertinent International Legal Obligations and Good Practices for States related to Operations of Private Military and Security Companies during Armed Conflict, and their application in host and territorial states. The core of the book comprises the main analysis, the methodology and the case studies, while the addendum provides an overview of how the energy sector and PMCs are challenging the sovereignty of politically fragile oil states, where energy firms may be involved in partnerships with the private military sector as much as states.
The findings of the analysis show that the perception of PMC legitimacy is highly dependent on how commendable or questionable PMC activities are. More important, however, they provide tangible evidence that there is a public expectation of a state-PMC interrelationship; in other words, the state is held responsible for PMCs’ wrongdoings. The most interesting part, however, is Due-Gundersen’s analysis of how globalisation is underpinning the regulatory efforts of PMCs’ behaviour. Using the International Code of Conduct for Private Security Service Providers as a case study of regulatory norm change, it shows that PMCs are emerging as international actors and that states are not the exclusive source of regulation, but rather only a part of a wider political sphere of regulation that also includes industry and civil society.
To sum up, Due-Gundersen’s book takes a more innovative approach than the existing literature which predominantly addresses the legal status of PMCs, positioning itself in the broader debate on the state’s monopoly on the legal use of force. It may be a relatively complex read for beginners, but surely provides interesting food for thought for International Relations scholars and academics.

Mihaela Luchian
Istituto Affari Internazionali, Rome, and University of the Sacred Heart, Milan
miky.luchian@gmail.com

 

Terrorism : a history / Randall D. Law. - 2. ed. - Cambridge; Malden : Polity Press, 2016. - xiv, 386 p. : ill. - ISBN 978-0-7456-9089-6; 978-0-7456-9090-2 (pbk)
Ever since the 9/11 attacks, terrorism has been perceived as one of the greatest, if not the greatest threat to national security of the twenty-first century. Terrorism, however, has existed since ancient times: analysing the phenomenon from a historical perspective is therefore essential for understanding it and how to deal with it. The second edition of Terrorism: A History by Randall D. Law does precisely this, providing a full account of the history of terrorism from antiquity to the present day.
Professor of history at Birmingham-Southern College, Law embarks on the ambitious mission of condensing the history of terrorism into roughly 400 pages, presenting the major terrorist actors and organisations in their political, cultural and social context, and underlining how the history of terrorism unfolds in parallel with the history of civilisations. Starting from the symbolic use of violence of the Assyrians and ending with the beheadings carried out by Daesh, the underlining concept of the book is that although weapons, targets, tactics and ideology change constantly, the essential features of terrorism have remained virtually the same since the dawn of history. At its core, terrorism is “symbolic violence carried out against the few to influence the many” (338).
Because it is predominantly a history book, the 16 chapters that compose it follow a substantially chronological order. This is not to say that the book consists of a mere list of events. Each chapter examines terrorist groups that not only were active in the same time span, but also shared similar (usually ideological) features. Conceived as a university textbook, as explicitly acknowledged by the author, Terrorism: A History presents a bibliography at the end of each chapter, which has been expanded in this second edition. The revision of the 2009 edition has also allowed the author to include recent developments – the defeat of the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka, the ‘lone wolf’ attacks phenomenon and the rise of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) – as well as some reflections on current and future trends.
The greatest value of Law’s book lies in its ambitious goal, that is, to avoid focusing exclusively on recent, notorious events and trends in terrorism in favour of an historical account that stretches back to antiquity. By illustrating the ‘whole picture’, it provides the reader with a deeper understanding of the subject matter, which allows for a more critical and conscious interpretation of recent events. Relatedly, the book has the merit of describing terrorism not as a crystallised notion, but rather as a form of violence in constant development, which changes shape (from tyrannicide to suicide bombing) through the centuries, sacrificing its victims on the altar of every ideology. The clarity of presentation and exposition ensures that the message reaches its audience.
Although too Western-centric at times, Terrorism: A History is a valid, comprehensive history book. Its main weakness may be the brevity of its conclusions. Perhaps, given such an all-encompassing account of terrorism, the implications of the work and its significance in the interpretation of terrorism today could have been discussed more at length.
Despite being dense with details, the book is rather accessible to a wider, interested public thanks to its linear structure. Given that it condenses millennia of history into one volume, it may also be useful to practitioners and experts. While not providing any groundbreaking, innovative perspective to experts, Terrorism: A History remains solid reading, and is warmly recommended to the audience for which it was conceived – university students and teachers.

Federico Mascolo
Sciences-Po Paris
federico.mascolo@sciencespo.fr

Dati bibliografici: 
p. 151-155
Numero: 
53/3
ISBN/ISSN/DOI: 
10.1080/03932729.2018.1484215
Data pubblicazione: 
02/08/2018

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