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					                      Dealing with Angry Losers – Birthe Hansen – NISA Paper – Draft 140507

Dealing with Angry Losers in the Middle East: EU policy and the US

Birthe Hansen1

               Abstract: ‘Dealing with Angry losers in the Middle East’
               One of the big challenges in the post-Cold War era has been to deal with states and
               groups, which came out of bipolarity as losers and/or were poorly suited to cope with
               the competitive dimensions of the new, unipolar world order. The US and the EU have
               been facing this challenge, and their approaches have diverged in several ways. The
               aim of this paper is to analyse six important cases of security issues in the Middle East
               1989-2007 (the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, the Palestine question, the invasion of
               Afghanistan, the invasion of Iraq, the 2006 conflict in Lebanon, and the Iranian
               uranium enrichment crisis) and assess to which extent the different Trans-Atlantic
               approaches have resulted in bandwagoning or balancing behaviour by the EU. The
               conclusion is that the 1989-2007 years so far has been an era of EU bandwagoning
               behaviour, although the EU also has maintained a stable, independent approach.

One of the big challenges in the post-Cold War era has been to deal with states and groups, which
came out of bipolarity as losers and/or were poorly suited to cope with the competitive dimensions
of the new, unipolar world order. Such positions of decline cannot help to foster dissatisfaction, but
the actors in question have chosen very different strategies for adaptation and for coping with their
difficulties. Particularly in the Middle East, some states and groups have adapted in ways, which
have resulted in controversies with the international society and attracted attention from the major
powers (Hansen 2000; Henry and Springborg 2001; Rubin 2002).
                The US and the EU are often depicted as actors choosing very different approaches
(Tertrais 2006; Pertes 2004; Everts 2004; Curtis 2004) when dealing with what we call the ‘angry
losers’ in the Middle East. There is absolutely no doubt that the US2 and the EU have different
approaches and priorities but the question here concerns the impact of the different approaches on
their mutual relationship. The paper3 thus addresses the American and the European approaches to
post-Cold War security issues and asks how important the different approaches have been 1989-

  Dr. Birthe Hansen, Department of Political Science, University of Copenhagen, e-mail:
  For comprehensive analyses of the US Middle East policy, see Quandt 1993 and 2006; and Freedman 2005.
  This paper is evidently a work in progress. Please don’t quote without permission from the author. Comments are most
welcome. The author wants to thank Dr. Carsten Jensen for comments to this early draft, and student Kasper Ly
Netterstrøm for assistance.

                    Dealing with Angry Losers – Birthe Hansen – NISA Paper – Draft 140507

              Six cases have been selected and analysed in order to assess the potential damaging
effects of divergent Trans-Atlantic approaches to how to respond. The cases all belong to the realm
of security politics. This realm is the one, from which political conflict is most likely to cause
effects on the general relationship. In the unipolar world order, the issues predominantly regard
terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. These means are favoured by actors, which are either
inferior measured in terms of conventional strength or engaged in asymmetric conflicts (non-state
actors against state actors).
              The six cases equal the major security issues in the Middle East between 1989 and
2007, as they all involve major outbreaks or threats of political violence. Furthermore, the cases all
involved violations of political principles shared by the US and the EU. Divergence in the Trans-
Atlantic responses would therefore illuminate whether specific Middle East issues went beyond the
regional dimension and were able to affect the general EU-US relationship.
              The major security issues in the region between 1989 and 2007 were in a
chronological order: the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990 followed by Operation Desert Storm in
1991; the Palestine problem from the middle of the 1990’s across the period of investigation
(including the policy towards the Hamas-government after the Palestinian elections in January
2006); the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001; the War Against Iraq in 2003; the Lebanon conflict
2006; and the 2007 Iranian uranium enrichment crisis.
              The cases thus cover a variety of features: they are geographically dispersed, they are
thematically different, they cover a range of security matters, they comprise state actors and non-
state actors, and they include oil and no-oil issues. The variety provides the basis for a
representative assessment as well as for identification of potential issue-based variations in the
impact on the Trans-Atlantic relationship.
              The six cases are analysed in similar ways comprising three elements: a brief
description of what took place, a description of the US respectively EU policy, and an assessment of
the character of the EU policy.
              The first two steps in the presentation of the cases are taken in order to avoid
methodological problems: what are we actually measuring?
              By focusing on what was agreed, we would risk to identify what the US could get
accepted in the UN (this, though, is also countered by selecting the cases systematically and thereby
including unilateral US action). Related to this is the risk of measuring the willingness of the US to
act unilaterally because of perceived imminent threats. Hopefully, this is avoided by including cases

                   Dealing with Angry Losers – Birthe Hansen – NISA Paper – Draft 140507

of different character, which have been perceived differently in the US – such as the invasion of
Kuwait in contrast to the election of the Hamas government.
             Another risk is that of measuring only the surface: formal agreement/disagreement
within the Trans-Atlantic relationship. To some extent this is hard to avoid because the intention in
the paper is to deal with formal events, which are committing the parties – and not the
implementation or the process. In order not to leave the formal commitment, the description of the
cases include important parts of the policies, which may counter the formal commitments.
             The research question is whether the different approaches of how to deal with the
angry losers has prompted the EU to pursue a balancing policy towards the American unipole.
Basically, foreign policy strategies fall into two categories measured according to the policy of the
unipole, or differently put, the most powerful state: balancing, which represents opposition, and
bandwagoning, which represents support.
             In order for the analysis to become more precise, we operate with two additional
categories: hard and soft (Hansen 2003; Hansen, Toft and Wivel 2007). The categories are
understood as follows:

                    Hard bandwagoning represents a strategy, where states either tacitly or openly
                     choose to revise key elements of their security strategy in order to support the
                     most powerful or threatening state (cf. Mearsheimer 2001: 139). In respect to
                     the Middle East cases, this implies full support for and some kind of
                     contribution to for the US position.

                    Soft bandwagoning represents a strategy, where states either tacitly or openly
                     make small adaptations in their security strategy in order to support the most
                     powerful or threatening state. In respect to the Middle East cases, this implies
                     support for the US position, possibly accompanied by national measures and
                     political positions.

                    Soft balancing represents a ‘tacit balancing short of formal alliances […] Soft
                     balancing is often based on a limited arms build-up, ad hoc cooperative
                     exercises, or collaboration in regional or international institutions’ (Paul 2004:
                     3). In respect to the Middle East cases, this implies opposition to the US

                    Dealing with Angry Losers – Birthe Hansen – NISA Paper – Draft 140507

                      position, possibly accompanied by national measures and political positions,
                      with without implications for other parts of the relationship to the US.

                     Hard balancing represents a strategy where states ‘adopt strategies to build
                      and update their military capabilities, as well as create and maintain formal
                      alliances and counter alliances, to match the capabilities of their key
                      opponents’ (Paul 2004: 3). In respect to the Middle East cases, this implies full
                      and open opposition to the US position and countermeasures in terms of e.g.
                      damage to the general relationship to the US.

              These categories are used to distinguish between the different outcomes of the
political strategies. On this background, the analysis of the six cases and subsequent the
categorization of the EU policies allow us to assess the impact of dealing with the angry losers on
the Trans-Atlantic relationship in the first eighteen years of unipolarity.
              The assessment, however, should not be considered part of a ‘static’ assessment.
Unipolarity evolves, and the eighteen years of analysis comprise two phases of unipolarity: the first
phase, 1989-1991, was a phase of manifestation. Internationally, actors were not fully aware of the
consequences of the systemic change of 1989, and the relations of strength were not fully obvious.
The phase from the early 1990’s has been characterized by a firm and recognized unipolar US
position. A declining US position may in it self propel different strategies from major powers in the
              Likewise, the EU has undergone several developments since 1989. During the 1990’s,
enlargement took place, and in-depth integration was initiated. By the new Millennium, however,
the process run into difficulties, and the integration moment came to a halt. The political strength of
the EU in general has thus been subject to fluctuations. Furthermore, the EU has not become a
unitary actor. In the first place, it did not become a union until 1993. In the second place, it is still a
cooperation between states (although a highly integrated cooperation), and the EU is not e.g.
represented in the Security Council by one unified vote. Consequently, emphasis has been put on
the major powers in the EU, which are the UK, France, and Germany.
              The analysis below highlights the bottom line of the foreign policy efforts: the output.
Consequently, the analysis does not account for more subtle signals in the policy making process,

                    Dealing with Angry Losers – Birthe Hansen – NISA Paper – Draft 140507

which contribute to frame the final decisions, or for the impact of policy process on the positions of
the parties – such as resulting in the advocacy of ‘realistic’ propositions, which would eventually
produce agreement. In addition, the analysis focuses at the level of political commitment, not the
level of implementation. This hides deviations from the official policies, such as the EU turning the
blind eye to Palestinian textbooks encouraging to violence against Israel while supporting
Palestinian education programmes economically and condemning acts of terrorism.
               Given these reservations, the simple analysis of the foreign policy outputs tells us
about the main position of the EU during the years in question – and about the EU’s approach to
dealing with angry losers compared to the US approach in spite of the complex processes leading to
European foreign policy decisions.
               Below 1) the six cases are analysed, then 2) a general assessment based of the cases is
provided, and 3) perspectives are outlined.

1. The cases

Case # 1: the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, 1990

On 2 August 1990, Iraq invaded Kuwait. The Hammurabi and the Medina Republican Guard
armoured divisions were in front of what became an invasion by 140.000 troops. Iraq had suffered
severe losses by the end of the Cold War: it had lost its superpower ally, the Soviet Union, it had
lost specific political, economic, and military benefits, and in the region it had lost relative position
to the hitherto US allies, which still had their superpower and maintained their specific benefits
(Hansen 2000). Iraq tried to compensate by invading Kuwait in order to expand its power base and
add the Kuwaiti oil reserves to its own.
               The first day of the invasion brought about a fierce international response (including
SC Resolution 660, which allowed for action in order to prevent aggression), which has been
described as a response of three elements (Freedman and Karsh 1993:73: “American leadership; the
active co-operation of the Soviet Union; the close involvement of the United Nations” (p. 73).
               The international community immediately agreed on demanding Iraqi withdrawal and
on putting pressure on Iraq in order to ensure this. President Bush declared that the US were not
ruling any options in, but would not rule any options out.

                     Dealing with Angry Losers – Birthe Hansen – NISA Paper – Draft 140507

              While abortive attempts to outline a so-called ‘Arab solution’ to the invasion took
place in the first weeks after the invasion, close to full international agreement about the demand for
Iraqi withdrawal was presented. The US began to gather a broad coalition, sent troops to defend
Saudi-Arabia against a possible Iraqi invasion, and began building up military capacity in the
Persian Gulf Area.
              The initial response by the major European EEC-powers was mixed. Great Britain
immediately advocated a strong line towards Iraq and fully supported the US policy. Germany also
advocated support for the US policy. Due to legal constraints, Germany was not able to offer
participation in the military build up, but offered instead to send vessels in order to relieve US naval
forces in the Mediterranean. Initially, France was reluctant and advocated a softer line, declaring
that the purpose was defensive and that there was no need to impose an actual blockade against Iraq
(Freedman and Karsh 1993:115), and that France would take its own steps rather than participating
in the multinational force proposed by the US (Ibid).
              During the autumn of 1990, the pressure on Iraq increased with British and German
support. France changed its policy and declared in September, that it would send forces to Saudi-
Arabia as part of Operation Desert Shield.
              The international pressure did not produce Iraqi concessions, and in November the US
announced a doubling of its military presence. The U.N. set a deadline for Iraqi withdrawal, but the
Saddam Hussein regime did not comply.
              On the night between 16 and 17 January 1991, coalition forces began an air campaign
against Iraqi forces. The air campaign went on, and on 24 February coalition ground forces began
the short land war. Three days later, Kuwait was liberated.
              British forces made up an important part of the coalition warfare, but also French
forces contributed. In the end of the air campaign, they even bombed targets at Iraqi territory.
              Until the end of the U.N. deadline for Iraqi withdrawal, France had come up with
some minor initiatives and worked for resolutions a bit softer than the US drafted ones. However,
the initiatives were cancelled, and France eventually voted for the US drafted resolutions.
              In general, the EEC foreign ministers supported the main line of policy, and several
smaller European states – including former members of the Warszawa Treaty – participated in the
coalition. The US, on the other hand, complied with the U.N. military mandate and called off its
operation short of ‘going to Baghdad’. It had been debated whether or not the US should proceed

                    Dealing with Angry Losers – Birthe Hansen – NISA Paper – Draft 140507

after forcing Iraq out of Kuwait and opt for ousting the Saddam Hussein regime. The US, however,
               Operation Desert Storm and the liberation of Kuwait thus resulted in what is
categorized as ‘hard bandwagoning’ in the case of Great Britain, France, and Germany. These three
powers were the key players in Europe before the EU Common Foreign and Security Policy was
implemented as the second pillar of the 1993 Treaty on the EU.
               For sure, the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait was an action with specific features: in modern
times, it has been a rare phenomenon that states invades their neighbours for economic gains and
power only; the members of the international community had a common interest in preventing
invasions and making this a part of the rules in the post-Cold War order; and the US acted in what
was generally considered a relatively cooperative and responsible way. Furthermore, the US
position as a unipole was not manifested and disputed by many. This is revealed by comments in
daily newspapers at the time – and most evidently demonstrated by the Iraqi decision to invade
               The background for Europe, which was not fully on its legs after the tremendous
changes of 1989, was therefore one of a predisposition to act in accordance with the US – the long
term ally of Western Europe and, considered by many, a friend of the emerging Eastern European
               In this case Great Britain demonstrated full support for the US as well a full
agreement with the US policy. Germany demonstrated agreement and expressed gratitude for US
assistance regarding its recent planning of the reunification. France demonstrated only partial
agreement – alongside national initiatives - but ended up with full participation in the Desert
Operations. While these differences existed among the three European major powers, the outcome
of the French policy seems to justify the labelling of ‘hard bandwagoning’ in the case of all three
major powers.

Case # 2: the Palestine question

The question of Palestine, which had been lurking at different levels since the Arab rejection of the
U.N. partition plan of 1947, once again climbed the political agenda after the Cold War termination.
In the first place this happened, when the Palestinian leadership chose to ally with Iraq during the
invasion of Kuwait.

                    Dealing with Angry Losers – Birthe Hansen – NISA Paper – Draft 140507

              The Palestinian position was illuminated by the fact that Iraq had no other allies. Even
Syria decided to join the international coalition and to contribute military to the operations against
Iraq. The Palestinians had suffered a heavy loss of position, because they lost their close Soviet ally
and a series of specific benefits. After the liberation of Kuwait, the Palestinian loss increased: the
oil-rich Arab Countries in the Gulf Area stopped their (substantial) economic support for the
Palestinians after the alliance with Iraq, Palestinian workers were expelled from the Arab Peninsula,
and the former regional ally of the PLO, Iraq, had suffered a grave defeat and had ended in
isolation. In addition to these losses, the Palestinian ‘family’ was still shattered after the outbreak of
the 1987 uprising, which had challenged the previous internal Palestinian balance of power.
              The question of Palestine was one of the areas, which had previously reflected some
disagreement between the US and the EU. The disagreement surfaced in 1980. The European
Political Cooperation, which then was dealing with foreign policy within the framework of the
EEC, agreed on a declaration on the Arab-Israeli conflict. The declaration – read in the context of
the Cold War – was unusually critical towards Israel and diverged from the hitherto Trans-Atlantic
position. Until then, the US had been the architect of the Western position since the sixties.
              The Venice Declaration of 1980 was issued at time when the major Western European
countries were concerned about the tensions in the US-Soviet relationship and the confrontational
superpower policies in the Middle East. It also came at a time of Western European wishes for
momentum in their cooperative efforts. The Middle East was important regarding both these
concerns by being a European ‘backyard’ and at the same time being an area without Western
European strategic interests. However, the Venice Declaration of 1980 had a short life. The Reagan
Administration quickly demonstrated to the Europeans that the US had the upper hand in the
Middle East, and the Europeans returned to the conventional track.
              The next time, Western Europe showed off an independent profile was at the Madrid
summit in 1988. The EEC then adopted a declaration on support for the occupied areas, which was
in effect economic support for building up the infrastructure of a Palestinian state. The background,
this time, was the Palestinian uprising 1987(-88), the so-called (first) Intifada. The uprising
attracted quite some attention among Western European voters, not least because of a growing
scepticism towards Israel following the 1982 conflict in Lebanon.
              However, the European Madrid-initiative ‘drowned’ in the end of the Cold War.
Western European political interest was directed towards the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the re-
unification of Germany, and the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. So was the US political interest. Also, in

                   Dealing with Angry Losers – Birthe Hansen – NISA Paper – Draft 140507

1990 the situation changed by the Palestinian support for the Saddam Hussein regime’s invasion of
Kuwait, and the following US Arab-Israeli peace efforts.
              The US called for a peace conference in Madrid shortly after the liberation of Kuwait,
and the efforts were backed by the Europeans. The Palestinian leadership quickly accepted the
framework in the light of their severely weakened position. In the first half of the 1990’s, the peace
process seemed to go on very well, and the Europeans supported this – US-initiated – development.
              When the peace process began to deteriorate in the middle of the 1990’s (most
dramatically when Palestinian groups launched a series of terrorist bomb attacks in Israel in 1996),
the European voice was condemning the attack but in a slightly less critical way than the US The
US, however, continued its peace efforts, although in a less active way than in the early 1990’s. The
aim was to put an end to the stalemate in the peace process, which had resulted from the terrorist
attacks. The efforts culminated in the late summer of 2000, when President Bill Clinton invested US
and personal prestige in brokering a deal before the termination of his presidency. The efforts at the
Camp David summit were, however, abortive even after a prolongation of the negotiations. Then
Palestinian leader, Yasir Arafat, rejected the proposals.
              In the second half of the 1990’s, the EU was busy dealing with its own enlargement.
The end of the Cold War had left the former Eastern Europe in a political vacuum, and the EU was
spending its political resources on a grand scale enlargement plan.
              However, the Camp David failure was followed by another Palestinian uprising. This
time, the outbreak of the uprising was less spontaneous than that of 1987, and it became much more
bloody and protracted.
              The EU maintained an emphasis on the need for both parties in the conflict to forward
concessions and results, while the US maintained an emphasis on the need for ending terrorism as a
means in the conflict. Furthermore, the abortive efforts at the Camp David summit propelled the US
to change the hitherto engagement in the peace process. The engagement had been extensive in the
first years of the 1990’s. The Clinton Administrations, still supportive and committed to the peace
process, gave priority to other issues – with the exception of Bill Clinton’s end-of-Presidency-
efforts to reach an agreement in 2000.
              The US then changed its policy. Both the Clinton Administration and the Bush
Administration, which took over six months after the Camp David summit, wanted the Middle East
peace process partners to perform more seriously. Furthermore, the US Administration assessed the
Camp David failure and ended up blaming the Palestinian Arafat Government. Actually, Bill

                     Dealing with Angry Losers – Birthe Hansen – NISA Paper – Draft 140507

Clinton has been quoted for giving his successor the advice not to deal with Yasir Arafat (Rubin
and Rubin 2003). The US then adopted a different tactic and began to wait for a Palestinian
leadership change.
              However, in April 2003 an initiative was published by the US, EU, Russia, and the
UN: the Quartet Roadmap. The roadmap, which had been prepared for nearly a year, was meant to
revitalize the peace process, and it outlined steps to be taken in process.
              On 11 November, 2004, Palestinian President Yasir Arafat died. In January, 2005, he
was succeeded by Mahmoud Abbas (a.k.a. Abu Mazen), a high-ranking PLO-official in the PLO).
The elections, which brought Abbas in power, were subject to boycott from militant Palestinian
groups including Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
              The EU view was that the election of Mahmoud Abbas appeared to create a window
of opportunity, and shortly after the EU donated 70 mil. Euros to the Palestinian Authorities in
order to encourage the Abbas political direction (Berlingske Tidende, 27/1-05). The then new US
Foreign Secretary, Condoleeza Rice, were talking about “progress” during her tour to Europe and
the Middle East in the beginning of February, 2002. President Bush also welcomed the election of
Mahmoud Abbas with references partly to Abbas’ more moderate profile, partly to the democratic
way in which the elections took place.
              The post-Arafat Presidency was thus welcomed by both the EU and the US, and it was
given the chance to seek cooperation with the Quartet. When a terrorist attack was carried out in
Israel on the night between the 25th and 26th of February, 2005, the EU and the US also acted in
agreement. The EU declared that the time had come to counter groups that continued to cooperate
on terrorism against Israel, and the US declared that such terrorist attack was a challenge against the
Palestinian Authorities.
              However, once again a new situation occurred a year after the election of President
Abbas. During this year Abbas had continued to advocate Palestinian moderation but had been
unable to implement his policy. The Palestinian general elections in January, 2006, brought about a
victory for Hamas. Hamas could thereby replace the previous al Fatah government.
              Hamas came to power while being on the US list of terrorist groups, and it began
government with a policy of strong hostility towards Israel.
              This posed a tremendous challenge to the international community: on the one hand,
the elections had been democratic and fairly free, and on the other hand they had brought to power a
government, which immediately repudiated the peace efforts and international obligations.

                   Dealing with Angry Losers – Birthe Hansen – NISA Paper – Draft 140507

             The US sent a clear message: in the beginning of April 2006, when the Hamas
government was formed, the economic assistance to the government was suspended until Hamas
would recognize Israel and end the use of violence. In order to prevent chaos in the territories, the
US instead increased its humanitarian aid with 57% to USD 245 mil. per year. Politically, US civil
servants were forbidden to have contact with the Hamas government.
             The EU adopted a basically similar position, but implemented it in a softer way. Like
the US, the EU increased humanitarian assistance, maintained to insist that the Hamas recognized
Israel, committed itself to non-violence, and accepted previous agreements and obligations.
However, the EU did not forbid contacts with the Hamas government.
             When looking at the dealing with the Palestinian question 1989-2007, a fundamentally
agreement seems to have been dominated the US and EU policies. Both the USA and the EU have
put an emphasis to the demands for a recognition of Israel, non-violence, and acceptance of
previous agreements from the Palestinian side, both parties have strongly condemned the use of
terrorism and put Hamas, Jihad and other Palestinian terrorist groups on their lists of terrorism, both
parties have provided economic and political support for the Palestinian Authorities (until the
Hamas government) and humanitarian support for Palestinian people (increased after the Hamas
government), and both parties had – in addition to bilateral efforts – advocated the Quartet
             This is not to say that there were no disagreements. In the first place, it has been an
on-going dialogue whether to carry out political dialogue with the Palestinian leadership
continuously or to make it dependent on a halt for terrorist attacks against Israel. In the second
place, the US was committed to a leadership change during the last years of the Arafat-rule, while
the EU did not make this an issue. In the third place, the US and the EU positions have diverged
regarding minor events, such as the Temple Mount incident in October 1990. A group of
Palestinians attacked Jewish worshippers, and the police fired and killed 20 people. Subsequently,
SC resolution 672 was adopted by the UN, but without condemnation of Israel.
             If these finding are interpreted as foreign policy output, there is no doubt that they
have to be categorized as bandwagoning, and that they even resemble hard bandwagoning.
Regarding the Palestinian question, the EU has by and large followed the US line.
              Yet we should not overlook the fact that several EU member states had divergent
national preferences. Indeed, different interests in the Middle East and different challenges have

                       Dealing with Angry Losers – Birthe Hansen – NISA Paper – Draft 140507

affected the agenda, but in the end the EU has adopted a policy, which is quite similar to American

Case # 3: the invasion of Afghanistan, 2001

US and British forces began Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan on 7 October 2001. The
Operation was the US-led response to the 11 September terrorist attacks in New York City and
Washington, D.C. The aim was to destroy terrorist training camps and infrastructure. Taliban had
protected and cooperated with the al-Qaida, and the situation came to a dead end, when the Taliban
rejected to extradite Osama bin Laden.4
                The warfare resulted in the fall of the Taliban regime, en extensive destruction of
terrorist facilities, and the capture of terrorist suspects.
                The invasion followed two crucial international announcements, both made on 12
September 2001: the decision of the NATO member states to invoke Article V, and the adoption of
UN’s SR resolution 1368. Both NATO and the UN thus provide the US with support for military
action with a reference to the right of self defence. NATO’s decision also implied that the US could
ask other members to assist militarily if necessary.
                In spite of the possibilities for NATO support in the military operation, the US chose
initially to act only with the assistance of the UK. A broader coalition later began to deploy troops
and other personnel, and about three years later, in October 2006, the responsibility for the
stabilization of post-Taliban Afghanistan was taken over by NATO. Furthermore, while the combat
situation in Afghanistan aggravated in the course of 2006, several NATO member states increased
their presence.
                In the case of the invasion of Afghanistan, there was no doubt that the EU displayed a
hard bandwagoning strategy toward the US dealing with the angry losers – the Taliban and the al-
Qaida terrorists. The terrorist attacks on 11 September were clearly illegitimate, and the ‘hard’
dimension of the following EU bandwagoning also reflects a common interest in disabling major
terrorist networks.

Case # 4: the 2003 invasion of Iraq

  It seems reasonable to include the al-Qaida terrorist network in ’losers’ in the Middle East. The initial core of the
network emerged from previous fighters from the then ended Afghan conflict with the Soviet Union, and al-Qaida
represents group at odds with the competitive features of the US world order, democracy and market economy.

                   Dealing with Angry Losers – Birthe Hansen – NISA Paper – Draft 140507

The invasion of Iraq in March 2003 turned out to be a controversial affair and one, which resulted
in major Trans-Atlantic disagreement. The general background for the invasion was an altered post-
11 September policy in the US into opting for regime change in Iraq. The specific background was
still another critical report by the UN weapons’ inspectors stating that Iraq was not fully complying
with the UN demands regarding WMD disarmament. The invasion quickly brought about the
downfall of the Saddam Hussein regime but was later followed by a major Iraqi insurgency.
             Prior to the invasion, the European countries had taken different positions regarding
the use of military means against Iraq, and these positions were maintained when the last US
proposal for a SR resolution on a mandate providing for military action was brought forward – and
when coalition forces began to attack.
             The main lines of division among the EU member states were on the one hand the
rival positions of the major EU powers, and on the other hand the tendency among new and small
member states to support the US position.
             France was the most outspoken critic of the US position, closely followed by
Germany. France and Germany argued that diplomacy and sanctions should be given another
chance and be given additional time to work. The supporters comprised the UK, Spain, Italy, the
Netherlands, Denmark, the Baltic States, and countries from the eastern part of Europe. These
countries supported the US quest for action with a reference to several reasons, particularly the
continuous Iraqi non-compliance with UN demands, the fear of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction,
and the brutality of the Saddam Hussein regime (the number and status of reasons given varied), but
the countries supported the essential US policy an contributed to the coalition.
             The French position was based on a harsh rhetorical criticism of the US policy
proposal, and it was carefully maintained after the invasion also regarding NATO initiatives. At the
NATO summit in Istanbul in June, 2004, France blocked for NATO’s role in training Iraqi armed
forces. France argued that it was not NATO’s role, and that there should be ‘no NATO flag in Iraq’.
             A series of specific factors probably influenced the French decision to oppose the US
policy proposal and contribute to prevent a UN mandate for military action. France had had very
vast economic interests at stake, it was generally seeking to increase its influence in the Arab world,
it had a large community of Moslems, it was well aware of the Russian reluctance to military action
(which would anyway block military action), and it had a political tradition for being sceptical of
US Middle East policy.

                   Dealing with Angry Losers – Birthe Hansen – NISA Paper – Draft 140507

             Germany, which argued in a less harsh way but nonetheless took a similar stand, was
facing general elections in the midst of a severe economic crisis. The voters seemed to favour a
prolongation of the sanctions regime, and the Schröder-government chose to follow that line. In
addition, the German political tradition not to engage in military action played a role, although this
position had been softened during the 1990-91 Gulf Conflict. However, in this case it was important
to the German debate, because Iraq did not pose any imminent threat to its neighbours. Germany,
however, did confirm its commitment to other parts of its relationship with the US, and later it tried
to ‘compensate’ by sending substantial number of troops to Afghanistan.
             Yet did neither France nor Germany display flocking behaviour in the case of the
invasion of Iraq. Instead, they chose balancing foreign policy strategies. These strategies qualify as
balancing because France and Germany opposed a vital US security priority. However, the
strategies only qualify as soft balancing, because neither country took any steps to actively oppose
what was going on or to downgrade other parts of their relationship with the US. On the other
hand, several EU member states – such as the UK and Denmark – pursued hard bandwagoning
strategies. The picture is thus a mixed one: the EU was split; two major EU member states opted for
soft balancing; and the majority of the EU member states opted for hard – or in some cases – soft

Case # 5: the 2006 Lebanon conflict

On 25 June, 2006, Israeli corporal Gilad Shalit was abducted by a Hamas group from a military
stronghold close to the Gaza Strip, and two other Israeli soldiers were killed. Prior to the abduction,
a series of rocket attacks against targets in Israel had been launched from Gaza. The Israeli Army
(IDF) moved into southern Gaza a few days later, and Israel arrested about a third of the Hamas-led
Palestinian government. The clashes went on, but the problems escalated on 12 July when Lebanese
Hezbollah abducted two other Israeli soldiers during an attack on the Israeli side of the border.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert called the abductions an ‘act of war’, and Israel began an
             In the course of the summer, the crisis developed and brought about intense Hezbollah
rocket attacks into Israel and Israeli campaigns by air strikes and ground forces. In Lebanon, the
IDF and Hezbollah fought fierce battles. A ceasefire was agreed on and became effective from the
early morning of 14 August 2006.

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                  The ceasefire was based on UNSC Resolution 1701 (11 August 2006). The main
architects behind the resolution was the US and France, and it was strongly supported by the EU.
According to the resolution, the main instrument was an enlargement of the existing UNIFIL force
from 2000 to 15.000 troops. The main tasks were to ensure the cease-fire, to assist the Lebanese
government in preventing a Hezbollah re-armament, and to provide the physical background for
Lebanese rebuilding.
                  The UN immediately began to prepare the deployment of the peacekeeping forces, but
the efforts were halted by European reservations. It was questioned whether the purpose of the
forces would be to fully disarm Hezbollah, and assurance of the safety of the UNIFIL-forces were
sought. After intense debates, clarifications and UN assurances (and minor changes regarding the
deployment procedure), the EU agreed on sending about 7.000 troops.
                  In the case of responding to the 2006 conflict in Lebanon, the EU demonstrated
bandwagoning behaviour5. Although the EU member states supported – and France contributed to
draft in cooperation with the US – UN resolution 1701, it was adopted on top of EU-US
disagreement on the extent to which the UNIFIL force should assist the Lebanese government in
disarming Hezbollah. Furthermore, while the EU had strongly supported the peacekeeping
instrument and initially declared to offer a substantial number of troops, the process of
implementation revealed reluctance as well as obstacles in term of the interpretation of the mandate
and fear for the security of the UNIFIL troops.
                  Consequently, the Lebanon conflict was a clear example of bandwagoning.
Furthermore, in spite of the implementation problems, we have chosen to label it a strategy of hard
bandwagoning because of the formal agreement and the close cooperation with the US – which
included acting on behalf of the US in Lebanon.

Case # 6: the 2007 Iranian uranium enrichment crisis

On Saturday 24 March 2007 the UN Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 1747 on
measures, that is, sanctions, in order to persuade Iran to comply with previous resolutions regarding
its nuclear programme.
                  The resolution was triggered by the refusal of the Iranian government to suspend its
uranium enrichment programme. This refusal caused a crisis in the confrontation between Iran and

    For an in-depth analysis of the EU and the 2006 Lebanon conflict, see Oest 2007.

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the international community. The confrontation had been going on for years, but the crisis came
after a report from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which was released in
February, 2007. In the report, the IAEA assessed that Iran had ignored the UN demands and
deadline for suspending enrichment of uranium, which might be used in the production of nuclear
              Before the UN deadline, the US had put political pressure on Iran, the EU had
attempted to persuade Iran through diplomatic activity, and the UN had sought a solution through
negotiations. However, the UN had demanded that Iran suspended its uranium enrichment
programme while the negotiations took place in order to prevent Iran from creating a fait accompli.
              The US had been at odds with Iran since the hostage crises during the Iranian
revolution, and it had pursued a variety of tough policies toward Iran: during the 1990’es, ‘dual
containment’ was favoured by the Clinton administrations, President George Bush, Jr., included
Iran in the so-called ‘axis of evil’, and ever since the hostage crisis, the US refused to negotiate with
Iran. In the aftermath of the Saddam Hussein downfall, the situation was aggravated, because Iran
put a further emphasis on its right to enrich uranium and began to interfere in the Iraqi insurgency.
              The EU policy towards Iran had been less confrontational. In contrast, the EU had a
substantial trade with Iran, had pursued a policy of criticism toward the Iranian nuclear programme
through ‘constructive dialogue’ and negotiations.
              At the time of the uranium enrichment-crisis, the EU basically preferred softer
sanctions and a continuation of the dialogue, while the US preferred even more extensive sanctions
and increased its pressure on Iran by sending another carrier group to the Persian Gulf. However,
the US succeeded in forwarding a proposal for a very strong UN Resolution, which the EU member
states in the Security Council were able to support (as was Russia and China). The EU itself also
fully supported the resolution.
              The adoption of Resolution 1747 reflects a certain measure of bandwagoning in the
light of the US efforts to promote sanctions and a tougher line against Iran. However, the efforts to
halt the Iranian nuclear programme have predominantly been undertaken by the US. Germany and
France have preferred to let the US take the lead – just like Russia and China have. There are
absolutely no indications of any Russian, Chinese, French or German interest in nuclear
proliferation to Iran, but there are indications of different interests in whom to deal with the
problem and how to distribute the costs of the problem-solving.

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              Having voted in favour of Resolution 1747, the High Representative for the CFSP,
Javier Solana, declared the next day that the EU ought to resume the dialogue with Iran as soon as
              Yet the adoption of Resolution 1747 represented a step in the direction of the US line.
It reflects the EU’s choice of a bandwagoning strategy. In terms of ‘soft’ or ‘hard’ the uranium
enrichment-crises predominantly reflect a soft version, as the US had preferred an even tougher
policy. However, the final verdict remains inconclusive until a military confrontation erupts or Iran
chooses to abandon its nuclear efforts. Not until then the EU position will face the ‘hour of truth’.

2. Conclusions: the years of bandwagoning

The first 18 years of the unipolar world order (1989-2007) may well be labelled ‘the years of
bandwagoning’ in the case of the EU approach to security issues in the Middle East. During these
years, the Middle East continuously presented a variety of security problems, which needed
attention from the US and the EU.
              In five of the six cases, the EU demonstrated bandwagoning behaviour (the only
exception among the six cases was case #4: the 2003 invasion of Iraq). In all these cases it
supported the basic US positions, and in three of the cases, it even demonstrated hard
bandwagoning: in case # 1 regarding the 1990 Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, in case # 3 regarding the
2001 invasion of Afghanistan, and case # 4 regarding the 2006 conflict in Lebanon (this one was
just beyond the borderline to soft bandwagoning). Regarding case # 2, the Palestine question, the
EU has been close to demonstrating hard bandwagoning, but the strategy was categorized as soft
bandwagoning due to the shortcomings of EU implementation of political initiatives, and due to
simultaneous competing ‘bilateral’ initiatives. So was case # 6 regarding the Iranian uranium
enrichment crisis.
              Only in case # 4, the 2003 invasion of Iraq, balancing behaviour was demonstrated.
This assessment, however, should be subject to at least two important modifications: in the first
place, the EU in general did not pursue a balancing strategy. The EU was deeply split on the
position towards the invasion of Iraq. Most notably France and Germany displayed balancing but
the vast majority of the EU member states pursue bandwagoning strategies. In the second place,
while France and Germany pursued what is categorized as soft balancing strategies, the vast
majority of the other member states pursued hard bandwagoning strategies.

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              Against this background, the general conclusion is that the EU member states and the
EU in general predominantly pursued bandwagoning strategies towards the US regarding Middle
East security issues 1989-2007. Furthermore, the only case of balancing was restricted to the Iraq
2003 invasion. It qualified as soft balancing, and it comprised only a small faction of the EU. It was
an example of issue-balancing, as it affected no other Trans-Atlantic relations in a negative way. Of
course, it has affected trust within the US-French relationship but it did not affect specific issues.
Soon after the invasion, Germany sought to compensate for its position and rebuild US-German
trust by investing additional efforts and resources in Afghanistan.
              We are thus able to conclude that the US respectively EU approaches and positions
have been divergent but that they have resulted in bandwagoning behaviour and a single case of
issue-balancing – without substantial damage to the general Trans-Atlantic relationship.
              These findings and conclusions belong to the general level of analysis, which is
looking for major outputs and trends. If we move to an even more general level of analysis, we may
add that there are indications that the EU approach comprises a substantial amount of free-riding
behaviour – an immanent risk in a unipolar system. The inclination, however, has so far been
second to flocking behaviour (Hansen 2000).

3. Perspectives: dealing with angry losers

The US unipolar position have gone through at least three phases since the end of the Cold War in
1989: a phase of manifestation 1989-91, a phase of consolidation 1991-2001, and a phase of change
2001- (Hansen 2003). During the post-Cold War era, the Middle East has been on top of the US
management agenda due to the many problems arising from the region. At the same time, the EU
has had a strong interest in preserving a good relationship with the US. This may change, if the US
is facing decline.
              Regarding the Middle East, the US and the EU have different interests. To the US, the
region traditionally represents challenges regarding strategic interests, the oil supply, and the
balancing of alignment concerns (the security of Israel and good relations to major Arab allies).
After 1989, two other security concerns have emerged: the risk of nuclear horizontal proliferation,
and the risk of terrorism. To the EU, the region represents income from trade, risk of refugees, and
risk of conflicts close to European borders.

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              In the unipolar era, it appears as if the US policy is far more prone to changes than the
EU’s Middle East policy. The US changes have been dramatic, and in general they seem to have
been caused by developments in the region. Previously, the policy of the Soviet Union was the main
trigger of US Middle East policy changes. In the unipolar era, the trigger has been replaced.
              In contrast, the EU policy has been like a ‘super tanker’: solid and on a firm course.
However, a series of changes of the EU Middle East policy has taken place triggered by the Trans-
Atlantic commitment. The policy changes, though, have been accompanied by an underlying stable
course, which has been less dependent on the regional development than the US policy changes.
              In order to solve the problems in the Middle East, however, joint US-EU efforts are
necessary: the problems in the region are tremendous. Both the US and the EU are in danger of
facing more severe security problems from the region in the longer term, if fundamental changes are
not implemented. To the EU and its member states, this poses the challenges of being more
responsible for the world order management, less inclined to free-riding, and less inclined to focus
on short term interests.


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