In Germany, Poland and the Common Security and Defence Policy Laura Chappell offers a comprehensive comparative analysis of an old and a new EU Member State's perceptions of and contributions to EU security and defence at the beginning of the 21st Century. Utilising a distinct theoretical framework intertwining strategic culture and role theory, this book focuses on change and continuity in Poland and Germany's defence policies. It does this by connecting the political and the military through two case studies on the EU Battlegroup Concept and the European Security Strategy. By analysing these along with each country's general approach to security and defence it is possible to assess in which areas convergence has occurred, where divergences remain and the impact of this on the Common Security and Defence Policy including whether a European strategic culture is developing. This has important implications for the effectiveness and efficiency of the EU as an international security actor.
Laura Chappell (2012)
Germany, Poland and the Common Security and Defence Policy
Russian revisionist geopolitics, backed by a coarse power's action, that brings aggression as a foreign policy means back to the repertoire of state actors, has revived the topicality of European security debates, not least in the national contexts. Once enthusiastically supported on the whole, the European Union's Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) experiences a comprehensive audit of all the composites once again. Thus, the "Europeanness", "commonness" just as the effectiveness of "security" and "defence" of the EU's most wanted and least warranted policy are undergoing a crucial moment of reevaluation, redefinition, and reorientation. The differences in national pull or push factors vis-à-vis Union's security and defence efforts yet again question the long-suffering "convergence" of their perspectives on highly delicate matters of defence and security. Addressing the matter in question and written nearly five years ago, Laura Chappell's "Germany, Poland and the Common Security and Defence Policy: Converging Security and Defence Perspectives in an Enlarged EU" (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012) might well become a frequent read today, particularly for those interested not only in the fate of the EU's security and defence policy, but also those looking for answers to recent German and Polish reactions to the Russian regional security challenge.
The book's primary aim is "to understand the actions of German and Polish policymakers in the security and defence domain and how this in turn affects both countries' political and military participation in CSDP" (p. 2; cf. also pp. 11, 17). Four research questions inform Chappell's analytical curiosity. She endeavours to explore and explain (a) what are the contextual factors that shape German and Polish perspectives of, and approaches to, the CSDP; (b) whether there has been any room for dynamization and thus alteration of both countries' perspectives; (c) what has driven such changes, on the one hand, and has effectuated continuity, on the other hand; (d) what impact wields this 'continuity vs change' fluctuation in German and Polish security matters on the dynamics of the CSDP?
Teleologically framed in this way, the book's narrative unfolds in seven (equally important!) chapters, including a well-written conclusions section – with a rarely occurring extensive and truly "comparative" findings summary (pp. 170-198).
The first two chapters develop the theoretical framework of the study – the Foreign Policy Analysis (FPA), with embedded analytical processors of 'strategic culture' and 'international role' approached from a social constructivist perspective. Worth appreciation is the fact that the author not only developed a comprehensive conceptual apparatus for her study, but also succeeded in "activating" (i.e. operationalizing) it properly (pp. 30-33). So, the concept of "strategic culture" has been well-defined and operationalized (sets of beliefs, attitudes and behavior, agents and institutions; cf. pp. 18-22) to help understand why both countries are following their particular foreign policy styles and objectives. The well-elaborated role theory (role expectations, role conceptions, role performance, role sets and changes in role; cf. p.23-30) under the overarching analytical framework of social-constructivist foreign policy analysis help to shed more light on how strategic culture elements translate into countries' national security and defence policy patterns and into their attitudes (perception and action) towards the CSDP. There is however a tiny moment in Chappell's theoretical construct that needs more clarification. It is, for instance, not really clear what is "foreign security policy analysis" (FSPA) (p.15-16) and how it differs (just as why it should do so) from the classical foreign policy analysis (FPA)? The issue is the more so ambiguous and intriguing as the author pledges to develop a "comparative foreign security policy analysis", but in the end fails to do so (no explicit elaboration on the matter has been identified). Strikingly, in her reflections on the so-called 'FSPA', she inevitably refers to the FPA – a well-established sub-discipline of Foreign Policy Analysis within the International Relations discipline.
The first two chapters also host the author's five underlying hypotheses. Apparently, at the time of writing and publication of the book, the author's hypotheses looked pretty much valid. Back in 2012, she anticipated the incremental convergence of Polish and German perspectives on security in general and CSDP in particular, and the trend was anticipated to continue due to the strong impact of their historically deeply-rooted strategic cultures (p. 32). Following 2014 as a year of crises for European and international communities, neither Polish "pragmatism" particularly in its view of security through the prism of relations with Russia, nor German "self-restraint on the use of force", as claimed in the book, appear – from today's perspective – as plausible as they were said to be a couple of years ago. Controversies in both countries' visions of response to the European security challenges, first and foremost – the Russian revisionist challenge – seem to witness if not a weaker convergence, then a clearly noticeable divergence of perspectives on the national roles and the CSDP as such. The argument – within the approach adopted – unfolds nonetheless logically and consistently, with a good flow.
Chapter 3 offers historical background to explain the peculiarities of strategic culture constructions in Germany and Poland. Rightly convinced that "strategic culture has often produced 'roles'" (p. 3) and thus certainly seeing history as a key to the present, Chappell provides the necessary historical insights to help understand the countries' contemporary attitudes towards EU-level security arrangements, including the CSDP in general (chapter 4), but also the European Security Strategy (chapter 5) and the EU Battlegroups Concept (chapter 6). The author consequently establishes that Poland's strategic culture is largely informed by the 200-year history of a country that has been unfortunate enough to be 'sandwiched between the great powers' (p. 36). By contrast, Germany's present strategic culture originated, according to the author, from a 'critical juncture' following the Second World War (p. 50).
Informed this way, chapter 4 elaborates on German and Polish role sets by grouping them into the following five categories: threat perception; use of force; multilateralism, including the rule of law; leadership; and the EU as an independent security and defence actor.
Encompassing two distinct case studies, chapters 5 and 6 are meant to support Chappell's search for convergence in German and Polish foreign, security and defence policy perspectives in the context of the EU's Common Security and Defence Policy. Chapter 5 focuses on the development of the European Security Strategy (ESS) and asks basically how much of German and/or Polish national interest has been informing the process. The sixth Chapter's locus of analytical curiosity rests with the development of the EU Battlegroup Concept and both countries' perceptions as well as contributions to this process.
As it stands, Chappell's original title presents an interesting read, even a couple of years after its publication. It is a well-researched, well-structured, and well-written exploratory and highly valuable explanatory account of the premises of German and Polish strategic cultures and contemporary role perceptions, as well as the formers' promises for Berlin's and Warsaw's future role performances. The well-framed concept of "international role" and the author's account of the role theory are the rare examples of a theoretically-informed and empirically grounded use of the term that is otherwise largely abused in both academic and public debates, where a "role" tends to mean everything possible and nothing concrete at the same time. For only this reason, Chappell's book is a timeless reading for those who are interested in IR and FPA theory advances. The wealth of the researched primary sources (pp. 206-216) and secondary literature (pp. 217-227) on German and Polish security-related threat perception, role conception and performance, that are filled with substance in chapters 3 to 6, grant Laura Chappell's book a valuable retrospective read that provokes a "futures thinking".
Small deficiencies, such as occasional theoretical and structural overloading (pp. 14-15), short-lividness of some hypotheses and rarely occurring oxymorons (e.g. equating CSDP, i.e. in fact the policy or structure, with "actor", i.e. agency as such, as put on p. 12) are those negligent "moments" in the book's story that one can turn a blind eye to. Especially, if one considers the effort put into delivering an outstanding and truly comparative analysis of a highly politicized topic.
A follow-up study incorporating the comparative foreign policy analysis in the context of the most recent developments (such as the EU's response to the Russian revisionism against the background of Poland's rising geopolitical worriedness, or the German (r)evolution in military affairs in the context of its proposal for a common "European army") would be more than simply wishful for it is a politically-informed desideratum for a research entrepreneurship today. Particularly interesting might be the reconsideration of the convergence thesis: it is quite unsure whether the subtitle of the book, if written nowadays, would still be framed affirmatively or rather end with a question mark. This time, however, the notion of "convergence" – another widely abused concept in political discourses – would need to be precisely defined, well-conceptualized and operationalized as well as the concepts of "strategic culture" and "international role" that Laura Chappell brilliantly succeeded to unveil and seminally substantiate in her 2012 book.